Discovery of Facility Enrichment in the Giant Panda’s Playground
Date: 2019-06-11

Enrichment for animals aims at improving the living environment, quality of life and animal welfare of captive animals. Compared to the wild, the living environment of the zoo is boring, and animals here tend to behave unnaturally. Therefore, enrichment for animals is a very important daily work for the zoo. There are many ways to realize enrichment, including improving venues design, providing more toys for play, changing food supply mode, and conducting behavioral training.


The same holds true for captive giant pandas: their living environment is relatively small and simple, and their life is rather monotonous. Compared with wild giant pandas, which spend a lot of time foraging for food, captive giant pandas spend most of their time on resting and eating. As the excess energy is not vented, some stereotypic behaviors will occur over time. In order to effectively solve these problems, better encourage captive giant pandas to express a more natural repertoire of behaviors, increase the amount of activities, and reduce the occurrence of stereotypic behaviors, keepers have tried a variety of ways to enrich the environment of the giant panda’s playground. 


In fact, the wooden frame, rockery, pool, slide and many others are all designed for facility enrichment.


Infrastructure Enrichment in the Playground


Giant pandas can rest on the wooden frame, exercise their bodies by climbing up and down on the rockery, drink water or bathe in the pool, play on the slide, etc.


Panda Mum and Baby Resting on the Wooden Frame


Giant Pandas Drinking Water and Bathing in the Pool


Pandas Playing on the Rockery and Slide


For young pandas, toys provided such as wooden horses and rubber balls make them very happy just like the way to human children.


Panda Babies Riding Wooden Horses 


Panda Babies Playing Rubber Balls


For the giant panda, a natural foodie, food enrichment is also one of the important ways to achieve giant panda enrichment. When panda keepers feed pandas regularly every day, there is no difficulty for them to acquire food and thus leads to lack of pleasure. As a result, a lot of food facilities are set up in the giant panda playground, allowing giant pandas to make their own ways to get food, increase their activity amount and enjoyment on eating. So, what are the food enrichment facilities in the playground?


On the wooden frame of the playground, there are a number of circular holes on it. This is to allow the keepers to put the bamboo upright in the hole, simulating the state of bamboo growing upright in the wild. In this way giant pandas eating bamboo here is like eating in a wild bamboo grove.


Holes in the Wooden Frame



Putting the Bamboo in the Hole for the Giant Panda to Eat


We often see hanging PVC pipes beside the trees and wooden frames in the playground. What are these pipes for?


Hanging PVC Pipes in the Playground


In fact, panda keepers usually hide bamboo shoots, apples or panda bread in pipes, so that giant pandas need to find their own ways to get food. This not only increases the difficulty for pandas to get food, but also increases their activity amount. Besides, pandas themselves feel very interested and enjoy the fun of getting food through hard work.


Keepers putting Bamboo Shoots into PVC Pipes


Keepers Putting Apples and Panda Bread into PVC Pipes


Keepers Putting Food into the Iron Frame


The Giant Panda Trying to Get the Apple in the Pipe


Pandas Trying to Get Bamboo Shoots in the Pipe


Nowadays, the enrichment work for the giant panda in captivity is becoming increasingly abundant and comprehensive. The staff are making unremitting efforts to improve their living environment in the hope that more and more enrichment facilities can be added to the giant panda playground in the future, enabling captive pandas to live a healthy and happy life here!




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