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Author Topic: Zoo Atlanta Panda Cam  (Read 172011 times)
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hermit
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« Reply #2235 on: October 06, 2017, 09:13:43 PM »

October 6, 2017
Most of the animals in our care are trained for a number of behaviors depending on needs of the animal. At the Zoo we follow the principles of positive reinforcement, by which the individual being trained is reinforced for the behaviors that the trainer has asked for. The giant panda cubs have begun learning some of the more basic behaviors that the adults know. The most important step for them right now is to “learn how to learn.” They are working on understanding that we are asking them to do something, they are going to hear a whistle (bridge) when they do it, and they are going to get a leafeater biscuit (reward) for it. As they begin to learn and understand that, we can begin to work on more complex behaviors that will help us better care for them. For example, the adults both voluntarily allow us to take blood from their arms in exchange for leafeater biscuits and produce; that way we can regularly monitor their blood for any changes. We can ask them to present their shoulders so we can give them their yearly vaccinations. We can ask Lun Lun to lie on her back and present her belly for ultrasounds at times when we are on the lookout for a pregnancy. All of that and more with some food, some patience, and good timing on the bridge (whistle). The cubs have a long way to go, but they are on their way.
Shauna
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hermit
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« Reply #2236 on: October 09, 2017, 09:08:00 PM »

October 9, 2017
I think it’s safe to say that giant pandas are very much creatures of habit. This is why it is so important that we introduce the cubs to important parts of their adult diets while they are young. We started introducing the girls to leafeater biscuits when they were much younger, and they have turned into little biscuit-eating machines. The next step, other than bamboo, is discovering which produce items Ya Lun and Xi Lun prefer. Each day, Yang Yang enjoys apple, banana and sweet potatoes. Lun Lun is not a fan of sweet potato, so we offer her apples and bananas each day. Lun Lun’s dislike for sweet potatoes has proven to be an advantage for keepers over the years as produce has been introduced to her cubs. Lun Lun has no shame in stealing a biscuit or two from them (they have stolen their fair share of biscuits from her), so the first produce item the cubs get is sweet potatoes. This way, we can be sure that Lun Lun isn’t going to eat them, and the cubs have plenty of time to nibble on and investigate the new food item. Ya Lun and Xi Lun still haven’t completely made up their minds yet, so we are continuing to monitor their interest and make sure they have plenty of biscuits in the meantime.
Danica W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2237 on: October 13, 2017, 08:33:24 PM »

October 13, 2017
I think we’re going to have to pull out some of the tricks we have up our sleeves to entice the twins to eat sweet potato. Sometimes, simply always offering a piece of sweet potato will eventually lead a cub to further investigate the new orange item and then eventually develop a liking for it. But so far the twins have been completely uninterested in the addition to their diets. Over the years we have developed an arsenal of approaches to get the cubs to start eating sweet potato. One fail-safe method is covering a piece of sweet potato with banana mush (which is way sweeter but not as healthy). After a few days of doing this we can start to reduce the amount of banana mush until the cubs have adjusted to the taste of pure, unaltered sweet potato (I don’t blame them; the only way I’ll eat sweet potatoes is in a souffle!). If this doesn’t work, offering tiny pieces of sweet potato with a biscuit (and getting them to take both items in their mouth at once) will also do the trick. Over time we offer bigger and bigger pieces of sweet potato until they develop that acquired taste.
Jen W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2238 on: October 16, 2017, 08:19:21 PM »

October 16, 2017
We are all excited about the autumn weather finally arriving to Atlanta. Well, almost arriving. It’s not 80 degrees anymore! We have been taking advantage of these cooler mornings by getting the pandas into the outdoor habitats as early as possible. Due to their incredibly thick fur, the bears are not very tolerant of hot temperatures, which is why they have been enjoying the air-conditioned dayrooms all summer. The cubs were originally wary of venturing back outside, but lately they seem to really be enjoying exploring every inch of the habitat. We can’t help but laugh as we watch them vie for position on the climbing structure and try to attack the innocent small tree nearby. I can’t wait to watch them discover the falling leaves of autumn, and dare I say it? Maybe even some snow this winter? This girl from the north can only hope!
Jenny E.
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hermit
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« Reply #2239 on: October 18, 2017, 06:55:09 PM »

October 18, 2017
Cooler weather means more outside time for the giant pandas! Going outside almost daily this past week has resulted in the cubs being much more comfortable in the outdoor space. Yesterday we saw them wrestling and playing outside! Mom still isn’t crazy about spending more than a couple of hours outside, so if you want to see the cubs outside, be sure to get to Zoo Atlanta before 11 a.m., which is when their second feeding of the day is, and when we have been bringing Lun Lun inside the dayroom for the day.
Jen W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2240 on: October 20, 2017, 08:02:09 PM »

October 20, 2017
The giant pandas spending more time in their outdoor habitats presents many more opportunities than just the pandas getting to spend time outside. Their outdoor habitats have fun places to hide enrichment, scatter their leafeater biscuits, and they can enjoy the crisp fall air. For keepers, it means we can do more cleaning projects inside without disrupting the bears’ afternoon naps, and we can do some of their daily training outside. Today was the first day I have gotten to do a training session with Yang Yang in the outside habitats. There is a mesh panel between Habitat 1 and Habitat 2 where the pandas can participate in training sessions if they choose. It was also enriching for Yang Yang because he hasn’t trained much in that area since last winter. While training in a different setting, you have to be mindful of asking for behaviors that the animal is still capable of completing in that new setting. Apparently, you also have to be mindful of a certain panda getting a little too cozy when you give him more than one biscuit.
Danica W.


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hermit
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« Reply #2241 on: October 23, 2017, 08:58:15 PM »

October 23, 2017
The cubs are beginning to consume some bamboo. While they still don’t quite have the jaw strength to break the large culms like their parents, they are eating some leaves and small sprigs. They are working on their jaw strength as we have seen them trying to break the small branches. Although milk is still their primary food source at the moment, they are going to gradually start to eat more bamboo, more biscuits, and, hopefully, more sweet potatoes.
Shauna
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JudyB
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« Reply #2242 on: October 25, 2017, 06:37:35 PM »

Thank you, hermit, for posting the updates here - I love reading them, but never seem to take the time to find the zoo's website - so this is great!  flower
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hermit
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« Reply #2243 on: October 25, 2017, 08:34:08 PM »

I'm glad you enjoy them, Judy.  bigsmile

October 25, 2017
A lot of our panda fans have been asking why we are trying so hard to introduce sweet potato to the girls as a part of their diet. Why not other produce items? Both Lun Lun and Yang Yang receive a variety of produce including bananas, apples, sweet potato and pear. Well, one of the primary motives behind introducing sweet potato to the girls is that we can be confident Lun Lun won’t steal it from them. Giant pandas can be particular about what they want to eat (understandably due to their carnivorous digestive systems and bamboo diets), and Lun Lun has shown us multiple times that she has no interest in sweet potatoes. To minimize waste, we have removed them from her diet and she receives apples, bananas and/or pears instead. Lun Lun’s dislike for sweet potatoes gives the cubs plenty of time to explore the new food item and eat it (or not) at their own pace. Additionally, sweet potatoes are lower in sugars than the banana and apples, so they are a good option when acclimating them to new and solid foods.
Danica W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2244 on: November 05, 2017, 12:13:26 AM »

Shauna D
October 30, 2017
The pandas had a spooky, fun Halloween last weekend. The cubs conquered several ghosts that were covered with vanilla extract and found lots of goodies. The pandas had pumpkins hiding treats and boxes to tear into. And as a special surprise, the weather was nice a chilly, perfect panda weather.
Shauna
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hermit
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« Reply #2245 on: November 05, 2017, 12:15:12 AM »

November 1, 2017
It is no secret that the cubs are growing like weeds. As they get bigger and more independent, we are doing our best to give both them and Lun Lun more space and opportunities to take some quiet time if needed. For this reason, you may only see one of them on PandaCam at a time. The cubs are still sleeping most of their day, and after we give them their supplemental formula in the morning they usually zonk out on the structure. We still want to give Lun Lun and the cubs the choice to have space and explore, so Lun Lun may be enjoying some bamboo outside while the cubs sleep in. She does, however, have access to the area they are in so that she can go check on them and the cubs can nurse if needed. So if you tune in and only see one panda, don’t worry, the others are close by.
Danica W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2246 on: November 05, 2017, 12:17:24 AM »

November 3, 2017
Ya Lun and Xi Lun are eating more bamboo each day. Watching cubs grow up never gets old for me. So far, I’ve seen five of Lun Lun’s previous cubs grow into sub-adults who have all gone through the same stages of development as Ya Lun and Xi Lun have, but I still feel a sense of awe and joy at seeing these two girls eating bamboo. Both cubs are already very good bamboo-eaters and can destroy a small twig in a matter of minutes. They are learning from the best! Lun Lun is an efficient bamboo-eater and eats faster than any other giant panda I’ve met. Ya Lun and Xi Lun are working on keeping up with her. As a result of their voracious appetites, both are over 70 pounds now.
Heather R.
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hermit
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« Reply #2247 on: November 07, 2017, 01:46:12 AM »

November 6, 2017
Occasionally, the pandas receive approved browse that we cut on grounds and give to them as enrichment. Most of the time, the pandas will investigate or play with it, but they rarely consume it (which would be ok because it is approved by our Horticulture and Veterinary Teams). That is, of course, until you give Yang Yang some mulberry. He is known to strip the bark off the outside and “culm” the mulberry much like he does his bamboo. He has even gone as far as harvesting his own mulberry from the patch growing out in Habitat 1. This morning when Yang Yang was still behind the scenes, he enjoyed some mulberry for breakfast. He enjoys it so much that we try to offer it to him as often as we can, while still being sure to save some for a certain little muntjac up at the Hoofstock barn.
Danica W.
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hermit
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« Reply #2248 on: November 09, 2017, 02:56:24 AM »

November 8, 2017
Due to previous scheduling issues, this is my third attempt at getting cleared to work the giant panda routine. This is the first time since I’ve been back in the building since Mei Lun and Mei Huan were here, and that was only one day. Now I have been back for four days and have been getting acquainted with Ya Lun and Xi Lun and their recent milestones. During this last day we were able to see Ya Lun eat a large chunk of apple for the first time. I am sure it won’t be the last.
Ryan
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« Reply #2249 on: November 10, 2017, 08:51:04 PM »

November 10, 2017
The last few days we have seen consistent consumption of bamboo from both Xi Lun and Ya Lun. Previously they were chewing on and playing with small pieces, but they are starting to seek it out and eat some leaves (especially after some leafeater biscuits). Our close observations of their behavior and their feces show us that they are indeed consuming progressively larger amounts of bamboo. It is still not considered a main component of their diet, and we will continue supplemental formula and leafeater biscuits for the time being. As their interest and consumption progresses, we will have to start addressing how much and what type of bamboo to provide them.
Danica W.
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