Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

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queenie
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Mon May 06, 2019 8:09 pm

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Jen W
May 3, 2019
*Sings* :%: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Nope, not the holidays! Bamboo shoot season! We’ve mentioned it a lot lately, but words cannot accurately describe how much easier life is with giant pandas when you have delicious, juicy, sugary bamboo shoots! Since the shoots are packed with so much water and sugar, the bears gorge themselves hard and then crash even harder for their many naps! Weight-wise, we are still offering the pandas the same amount of food, but they eat all of it so they are full for longer periods of time. This has given the team some much-needed project time to work on personal goals or other tasks, like prepping for The Beastly Feast tomorrow! This is our annual black-tie gala event that also happens to be one of biggest fundraising events to help promote Zoo Atlanta’s conservation mission. As this is such an important event, teams all across the Zoo are spending extra time (which is precious to us!) making the habitats and spaces looking their best. For the Panda Care Team, this is hard to do when the bears are being their typical picky selves. Thankfully, Beastly Feast and shoot season overlap, so it makes things a lot easier for us. The bears don’t care, though. They’re just beyond happy to be eating shoots!
Jen W.
Keeper III, Mammals
(photo by Jen W.)
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Danica W
May 6, 2019
Things have been pretty quiet with the giant pandas lately (bamboo shoots mean full, sleepy pandas and extra project time for the care team), but I did recently observe Ya Lun and Xi Lun during a pretty long self-anointing session. This is a natural behavior for giant pandas, and one we are seeing more frequently from the girls now that they are sub-adults. They seem to be taking after Yang Yang, with their apparent current favorite scent being Tabasco sauce. The best part is that if one sister rolls in the scent, the other sister then tries to self-anoint with her rather than the scent on the ground or the enrichment item. They generally end up rolling around on top of each other, with a fluffy panda head popping up every once in a while.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
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Going After Nice Boo Today ~ 5/6/19 :cloud9:
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Mon May 13, 2019 8:58 pm

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Jen W
May 8, 2019
One thing you all might have noticed from your visits to Zoo Atlanta or the pictures we have shared is that the outdoor habitats, dayrooms and behind-the-scenes night areas all look pretty empty during bamboo shoot season! Without all that extra “fluff” of bamboo leaves, when we offer the bears the equivalent weight of bamboo shoots, it looks like nothing compared to that same weight in bamboo! It’s just another short-lived perk of shoot season – a season that unfortunately only lasts about a month in Georgia!
Jen W.
Keeper III, Mammals
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5/13/19~Go Thru Tunnel~Eat Shoots~Then Read Your Email/Scent Message
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Mon May 13, 2019 9:01 pm

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Danica W
May 13, 2019
Giant pandas have been around for thousands of years. Some of the biggest threats that giant pandas face today, such as habitat fragmentation, didn’t become a problem until the agricultural and land development splurge in the last hundred years or so. Up until the late 1800s, little was known about giant pandas or their behavior. They are an extremely elusive carnivore often on the search for a new patch of bamboo. Their historical natural range didn’t have them coming into contact with humans often at all. It took a lot of effort and determination for researchers to collect some of the first pieces of data we have on giant pandas in their natural habitats. It’s crazy to think that despite being a well-known and recognized species across the world and all cultures, it wasn’t until recent years that we really started getting a grasp on giant panda behavior *. As a matter of fact, their entire genome even wasn’t sequenced until 2010!
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
(photo by Danica W.)
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q. I for one am so thankful
* ^ from this update = really started getting a grasp on giant panda behavior
we have gotten to know their adorable behavior :hug: :rh: :pan:
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They are still enjoying this wonderful period of bamboo shoots, pandas love so much, but one is busy sending/scenting a message on a log {one of their behaviors = perhaps like working on just the right email for Mom on their b-log :giggle: } while the other finds just the right shoot

Shoots & Scents
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queenie
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Mon May 13, 2019 11:07 pm

Glad ZA put this 30 second-video {with sound} of Xi Lun & Ya Lun enjoying their bamboo shoots :bravo:

:vid: 30 sec. https://www.facebook.com/ZooATL/videos/ ... =2&theater
:hooray:
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There's a lot of chewing going on over in Pandas during bamboo shoot season! (video courtesy of Danica W.) #ZAPandas #OnlyZooATL
Like Shauna mentioned in the last update, bamboo shoot season is upon us! We all (humans and giant pandas alike) love shoot season because the pandas are able to eat their fill and get a lot of naps in. Unlike other animals that primarily eat leaves, giant pandas don't have the capability to grind up plant matter without chomping their jaws up and down. A few of our Wild Encounter Guides here at Zoo Atlanta actually taught me a cool trick to feel the difference in our jaw musculature versus a giant panda's, and you can try it right at home! Place your hand on top of your head and pretend you're chewing something. You won't feel much movement in your hand because our jaw muscles are attached near our temples. If you were a giant panda, you'd feel a lot of muscle movement on top of your head because their jaw muscles are attached at their sagittal crest. It's that jaw musculature that gives them the power to crunch through bamboo, but it also causes them to be unable to quietly grind leaf matter like other leaf-eating animals. I don't know about you all, but I think they're still pretty cute despite being loud and "smacky" chewers!
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
:nite:
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Thu May 23, 2019 5:05 pm

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Danica W
May 20, 2019
We recently tried some new enrichment in our behind-the-scenes area for the giant pandas. One of the most challenging and rewarding parts of being an animal care professional is trying to constantly think of novel and engaging enrichment for the animals in our care. Since we can’t offer a new item every single day, this often means re-purposing some of our existing items and offering them in new ways. If you follow the Zoo Atlanta pandas, then you have seen the hammock that is usually hanging up in one of our dayrooms. You probably also know that the pandas all love it, and will spend time eating, resting, and playing on it. We are lucky enough to have two hammocks, so we thought it would be fun to offer one behind the scenes for the first time. So far Lun Lun and Yang Yang have both had access to the hammock, and both seem to be enjoying it. Lun Lun is more interested in using it as a table for her bamboo shoots, but Yang Yang is taking full advantage of his new lounging spot.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
(photo by Danica W.)
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Jen W
May 22, 2019
Hanging the extra hammock in one of the behind-the-scenes dens has been a huge hit with the adult giant pandas. You recently saw a picture of Yang Yang snoozing away; well, here you can see a picture of Lun Lun passed out after gorging herself on bamboo shoots. She looks really relaxed! The twins got to see the hammock hung a couple of nights ago, but they were a little unsure of the new change to their behind-the-scenes area and were not completely enthralled and in love with it as their parents were. This isn’t too surprising, as giant pandas are notorious for being wary of anything that’s new. The twins did sleep in the hammock overnight, or at least we think they did because someone defecated in it, but while the team was in the building we didn’t see much interaction from the twins. Oh well, at least the adults seemed appreciative!
Jen W.
Keeper III, Mammals
(photo courtesy of Jen W.)
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by JudyB » Thu May 23, 2019 5:41 pm

Thank you so much for all the updates, queenie - I don't post as much as I should, but do love hearing what the pandas are doing! :love:

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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Thu May 23, 2019 9:12 pm

Hi Judy, Thank you, I am glad you enjoy them too ~ this panda family has been so fascinating to me over the years ~ and Ya Lun & Xi Lun are still so playful & entertaining together ~ lil' huggie bears. :pan: :huggie: :pan:
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Thu May 30, 2019 2:50 pm

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Danica W
May 29, 2019
Just as quickly as shoot season arrived, it is officially over. Bamboo shoots are seasonal, arriving in the spring/early summer, and we fed the giant pandas the last of our supply a few days ago. We have begun offering mature bamboo again, more specifically a species called yellow groove (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). The pandas are slowly but surely realizing we have no shoots to offer, and have gone back to culming and leafing the mature pieces of yellow groove we are giving them. This period of transition is expected each year, and is something we all prepare for. Here in Georgia, there are about 200 species of bamboo that grow abundantly, but the giant pandas seem to favor about eight of those species. Before shoot season we were offering Henon bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra Henon) so we switched it up and are offering yellow groove because it is something they haven’t had in a while. The novelty of the new bamboo type is working in our favor, and they’re back to crunching away between naps.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
(photo courtesy of Danica W.)
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glad we got to see them enjoying their shoots, the whole season :grhug: :rh: :pan:
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:25 pm

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Jen A
June 12, 2019
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since my last update, and in wracking my brain on what comings and goings have been happening in PandaLand, I have realized that a pretty important detail has been left out. Don’t worry – all is well with the pandas. They have adjusted well after the end of bamboo shoot season, and everyone is happily munching away on bamboo. But I do have some bittersweet news to share. After 8.5 years of working as a primary caregiver on our Panda Care Team, Jen W. is leaving us — an “extended vacation” as she likes to call it. While we’re all really excited for Jen’s new adventures, we’re going to miss her a lot. But never fear! Although we will never be able to fill Jen’s shoes, those of us on the meat-eating side of our team are excited to spend more time with the pandas until we welcome a new member to the Panda Care Team.
Jen A.
Keeper II, Mammals
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:27 pm

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Danica W
June 14, 2019
It is important that the animals here at Zoo Atlanta have positive relationships with all members of their care teams. This is why we put such a strong emphasis on giving the animals choice and control over their days, as well as the option to voluntarily participate in their training. Due to the medical nature of some of our trained behaviors, it is equally as important that the animals have positive relationships with the Veterinary Team here at the Zoo. Through positive reinforcement training and relationship-building with the giant pandas, we can perform voluntary blood draws, ultrasounds, etc., all while the giant pandas are awake and choosing to participate. Today, Dr. Kate and one of our veterinary technicians, Carla, came over to complete a laser therapy session with Idgie. We had to walk through the giant panda building after we were done, so they both got the chance to stop by and say hello to Yang Yang while he waited for his dayroom to be cleaned. We regularly have the Veterinary Team come up just to see the pandas and spend time with them, so when it comes time for procedures the pandas recognize them as familiar and safe faces. When Dr. Kate walks in, Yang Yang always perks right up, comes over to the mesh to see her, and is very content as she feeds him leafeater biscuits or produce. Through his body language (ear posturing, body position, and eye orientation), we’ve seen time and time again that he has a positive association with Dr. Kate and enjoys seeing her. It makes us happy that he has such a great relationship with one of his vets, and we know Dr. Kate loves it as well.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:28 pm

Happy Father's Day to all People Fathers & Panda Daddys like our Daddy Yang, Daddy Tian, & Daddy Gao (now in China) ~ Daddy Yang Celebrating Father's Day > :rh: :pan:
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^ click 2X biggest ~ Daddy Yang :hug:
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Danica W
June 17, 2019
It’s crazy to think that in a few short months Ya Lun and Xi Lun will be 3 years old. They’ve each grown into their big personalities and we are still learning new things about them all the time. Recently, we have been spending time focusing on training with each of them. We have trained with them in the past, but as two growing bears, their main focus was always finding the next bite of bamboo. This is still a big priority of theirs, but they are able to focus for longer periods of time during training sessions. Right now, we are training them for behaviors that will help us monitor their health daily. These behaviors include things like opening their mouths so we can look at their teeth and presenting their paws.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
(photo by Danica W.)
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:17 pm

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Danica W
June 21, 2019
We often get asked why giant pandas sit the way they do when they eat. When the pandas are kicked back enjoying bamboo, they either look extremely comfortable, or extremely uncomfortable (by human standards). Regardless of how it may appear, the pandas make sure they’re comfortable before they start eating. The reason that giant pandas are able to sit the way they do while they consume bamboo is in part due to their unique pseudothumbs. This modified wrist bone provides them the capability to reach out to grab their food, which other members of the bear family are not as capable of. For this reason, you’ll often see other bears eating while on all four paws, or sitting down in a similar position as your dogs or cats at home.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
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Additional Comfortable Panda-Eating-Positions :out:
1. One against a pole 2. One leaning against the wall
3. One lying back against a low slanted pole & One semi-kicking back against a straight pole 4. Two = combo-against-wall & each other :huggie: :cloud9: >
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:53 pm

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Amanda D.
July 22, 2019
My name is Amanda, and I recently joined the Panda Care Team here at Zoo Atlanta! I started as a Hoofstock Intern in May of last year. Three months later I was given an opportunity to be a Seasonal Hoofstock Keeper. I worked with the giraffes, warthogs, ostriches, zebras and muntjac. After my seasonal position ended, I spent some time working in our Small Primate Department. Experiencing multiple departments allowed me to grow as a keeper and diversify the animals I have worked with. In July of this year I found out some great news – I would be joining the Zoo Atlanta team as a primary keeper in giant pandas! As I continue training and getting the routine down, I’m also spending some time getting to know each of the giant pandas, as well as the red panda, Idgie. In this short time I’ve already been able to observe their unique personalities, and I look forward to learning more about them!
Amanda D.
Keeper I, Mammals
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Danica W
July 19, 2019
All animals’ physical and behavioral traits adjust to make them best suited to their native environments. Animals who live in cold areas have thick fur to keep them warm, and semi-aquatic animals have traits that make them agile and quick swimmers. So, how could a panda’s black-and-white fur pattern possibly help them blend into green bamboo forests? For starters, you have to think about how bamboo grows. It shoots up extremely quickly in dense patches, with leaves near the top of the culm creating a shadowed canopy below. When you walk deep into a bamboo forest, it’s surprisingly dark with patches of light, and the black-and-white coloration of giant pandas helps them blend in extremely well while they are kicked back eating bamboo. We see it firsthand in our behind-the-scenes habitat that the bears have access to over the winter and spring months. We let the bamboo grow freely in this habitat, and the pandas are able to enter and harvest their own meals. Often times they are extremely difficult to see, and the best way to find them is to look for shaking bamboo that indicates where they might be hanging out.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:56 pm

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Jen A
July 17, 2019
We’ve officially headed into the heat and humidity of middle summer in Atlanta. This means that animal care teams all over the Zoo are busy ensuring that the animals are staying comfy and cool in addition to our regular responsibilities. But in PandaLand, that means something different for the Panda Care Team. As we move further into summer, we are starting to see a change in activity patterns for the giant pandas. They’re eating a little less and sleeping a little more. This offers a nice change of pace for our team and allows us to spend a little more time on other aspects of our jobs like building enrichment, professional development, and planning future habitat modifications.
Jen A.
Keeper II, Mammals
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^ click 2X biggest ~ Ya Lun :rh:
Danica W
July 8, 2019
Utilizing positive reinforcement training for veterinary behaviors is a huge part of how we are able to provide amazing care for the animals at Zoo Atlanta, as well as enable the animals to participate in their own care. In the giant pandas’ indoor area, there is a mobile but secure space that allows us to access the giant pandas from all sides. In this area, we are able perform voluntary ultrasounds and other veterinary exams safely. When not in use, this training area resides in a portion of the pandas’ behind-the-scenes area, so that they are comfortable seeing and walking through it every day. The only time they are completely inside of it is during training, and they have a very positive association with it! Generally, we don’t even have to ask for behaviors and the pandas get in position and wait for leafeater biscuits all on their own. Their comfort and voluntary participation in this training is vital, and it’s also fun and educational for the Panda Care Team.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ya Lun & Xi Lun Around the Den :hug:
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:55 pm

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Amanda D.
August 7, 2019
We get a weight on each of the giant pandas twice a day (They are both currently about 60 kg). For the twins, we will put a piece of sweet potato and a piece of apple on the scale and ask each sub-adult to come in one at a time. As you might already know, Xi Lun is not a fan of sweet potato, so she will get on the scale and only consume the apple slice. This allows us to get a weight on Xi Lun and then once she’s off the scale, we let Ya Lun in to get her weight. Well, after we get a weight on each of the twins, we spend time ensuring that they each get a set amount of their diet before placing the rest of it out into the dayroom. And just as you might recall concerning Xi Lun’s distaste of sweet potato, she’s never been a huge fan of sugarcane either. Well, that changed today as Keeper Danica offered her a piece and she grabbed it and proceeded to eat it! Looks like Xi Lun might have an interest in it after all!
Amanda D.
Keeper I, Mammals
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Danica W
August 5, 2019
Giant pandas are selective about their bamboo, but it is for a good reason. They have adapted to eat bamboo despite their carnivorous digestive system, so they need to make sure that the pieces they are consuming are giving them more energy than they are expending. They fully digest about 30 percent of the bamboo they consume, and depending on the time of year will culm (eat the outer layer) or eat leaves from the bamboo. There are several theories as to why giant pandas pick certain parts of the bamboo, but it is commonly believed that they are smelling for starch or protein content. Recent research argues that giant pandas, like other carnivores, get most of their energy from protein. This would explain why they have the digestive system of a carnivore, and why their ancestors’ transitioning to a bamboo-based diet isn’t as far-fetched as previously believed (bamboo has a decent amount of protein for being a grass). It’s definitely something interesting to think about! Yang Yang wasn’t as impressed when I broke the news to him; he continued his breakfast in the behind-the-scenes areas while we cleaned his habitat. If you’re a Panda Fan, I encourage you to look into the interesting research about pandas, their diets, and the behavior. For an animal that is so universally recognized, there isn’t an extensive amount of research on them. Scientists are always learning more and it’s always interesting to read!
Article cited: Sponheimer, M, et al. “Dietary Evolution: The Panda Paradox.” Current Biology, Cell Press, 3 June 2019.
Danica W.
Keeper II, Mammals
(photo by Danica W.)
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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Re: Giant Pandas at Zoo Atlanta ~ Lun Lun-Yang-Ya Lun & Xi Lun Family

Post by queenie » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:01 pm

^ One cub is selectively eating bamboo around the den like in above update: and the other conserving her needed energy by napping. An interesting possible explanation in it, for why they are selective and smell their bamboo, being they are looking for high starch & protein content ~ also there is a reference to an article that explains more about their nutrition & digestion. :rh: :pan:
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^ click 2X biggest ~ sweet Idgie :hug:
Amanda D.
July 31, 2019
As you might remember from my recent panda update, I’m new to the Panda Care Team, which means I’m making sure to spend time observing the animals in our care and getting to know each individual better. On several occasions I have spotted Idgie the red panda sticking out her tongue out as she moves around the habitat. The reason that she is exhibiting that behavior is because she has what’s called a Jacobson’s organ (or vomeronasal organ). When Idgie is sticking out her tongue she is essentially testing the odors or particles by passing them from her tongue to a gland located in her mouth. It’s an interesting adaptation to be able to observe!
Amanda D.
Keeper I, Mammals
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle
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