Education

Panda Pillow Talk | What those Chirps and Baas Might Mean

Researchers at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) say they have decoded 13 vocalizations for pandas, including noises expressed during courting. The researchers from CCRCGP, led by Zhang Hemin, the head of the center, have found that male pandas are said to baa like sheep if they are courting a mate, while females chirp if they are interested.  The noises are among a range of barks, roars and squeaks that have been analysed by Chinese doctors who are desperate to boost the numbers of an animal that is one of the most endangered in the world.  "Our researchers were so confused when we began the project that they wondered if they were studying a panda, a bird, a dog, or a sheep,” said Mr. Zhang.  He goes on to explain, “If we can understand their language, it will help us protect the animal, especially in the wild.” CCRCGP has been working on the panda linguistics project since 2010 when they started making recordings of pandas in the center - both cubs and adults - in various situations: eating, mating, nursing, fighting, etc.  They then began analyzing the voiceprints. Sounds expressed by panda cubs, they found, were basic and include ‘gee-gee’ (‘I’m hungry’), ‘wow-wow’ (not happy) and 'coo-coo' (nice).  Panda mothers have a variety of calls.  "If a panda mother keeps tweeting like a bird, she may be anxious about her babies.  She barks loudly when a stranger comes near." While the findings of the research were met with skepticism by some on China’s social media websites, the researchers are confident in their work.  “How is this panda’s consciously expressing their affections for each other,” one said. “This is basically just the sound of mating.” The center aims to set up a “panda translator” that would use voice-recognition technology”, the news agency added, without providing details.     Originally reported from Xinhua News Agency.

Albert Einstein Academy 6th Grader’s Fabulous Video

The 6th Grade Language Arts class atAlbert Einstein Academy Elementary School - a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Art and Math) based school focused on hands-on project based learning curriculum - were recently involved in a novel study of a book called, The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate.  The book is about a real gorilla named Ivan who was kept in a small mall enclosure for over 27 years and never went outside. Eventually, he was adopted by the Atlanta Zoo. During their study of this novel, their teacher led them through a series of projects to answer a guiding question, “Do humans have a right to capture or cage wild or endangered animals?” Another guiding question that they explored is, “How humans can impact wild animals and their habitats?” One of the projects was to create a music video.  For this project, the teacher asked the students to research organizations  that had similar goals to what they are portraying in their videos about the animals they have selected to focus on as the topic of their video. The students believed that Pandas International matched their message. Part of our project-based curriculum is that students make meaningful pieces of work that are then shared out into the world so that they learn beyond the book and worksheet and can understand that they have a voice and can contribute to society in a meaningful way. The students shared their video with us and we would like to share it with the world! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Count On Me  by Bea Tan -----------------------------------------------------------------------------   Have you ever found yourself caged in the dark and you can’t see I'll be the light to guide you If you ever find yourself in a zoo and cannot flee I'll risk my life to find you Oooh Ill find out what your made of and tell people to stop encaging you You can count on me like 1,2,3 Ill be there And I know when I need it i can count on you like 4,3,2 you’ll be there ‘cause that’s what keeps you from getting extinct Ooooooh, ooooh yeah, yeah if your searching and [...]

The Panda who Faked her Pregnancy…or Did She?

Giant Panda’s Faking Pregnancy Recently, I read an article, I can’t remember where it was, but I do remember the articles message. It said that a specific female panda was intentionally faking pregnancy, in order to get more food from her caregivers. This story was very cute, and heartwarming, and it did go viral because everybody was able to get a good laugh, but it’s important to really understand an animal’s behaviors in order to understand them. By taking the time to dig deep into an animal, like this Giant Panda’s actions, we can truly comprehend the bio-behavioral norms of the species. What many onlookers found adorable, was actually a phenomenon common in Giant Pandas, or Ailuropoda melanoleuca, called pseudopregnancy. It’s symptoms are entertaining, but truthfully it makes the Giant Pandas species survival that much more difficult. Pseudopregnancy is when a female has the same symptoms of being pregnant, and can stump researchers. Ultrasounds are unable to detect the presence of a fetus until much further along, and the fake pregnancy symptoms make it extremely difficult for that particular female to have reproductive success because their window is 1-3 days long. All in all, what many brushed off as a panda faking pregnancy, was most likely a female experiencing pseudopregnancy, or unfortunately the female could’ve been pregnant, but pregnancy loss is also extremely high in Giant Pandas and can overall go undetected. ***All Information can be found in research articles compiled in the text “Giant Pandas: Biology and Conservation” which was Edited by Donald Lindburg and Karen Baragona

Panda’s May be more Adaptable than Originally Thought

Pandas aren’t as picky as we thought: Researchers find endangered animal is far more adaptable (as long as they’ve got bamboo) Had been believed animals needed pristine forest with a gentle slope Team now say animals simply want to be where the best bamboo is  By MARK PRIGG FOR MAILONLINE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 16:56 EST, 4 December 2014 | http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ Pandas are not quite as picky as experts thought. Researchers in Michigan say that in fact, animals are far more resilient in the areas they can live in. The new finding could dramatically improve the animals chances in the wild –  where the 1,600 remaining wild giant pandas in the 21,300 square kilometers to which the animals have been relegated.

Dr. Kersey is Featured in Veterinary Outlook Magazine

PI Advisory Board Member, Dr. David Kersey, was featured in the Winter/Spring 2014 volume of Veterinary Outlook Magazine published by Western University of Health Sciences.  The article summarizes Yingmin Zhou and Xiaoyu Huang's visit to the university (*funded by PI) last fall to train with Dr. Kersey.  The scientists, from CCRCGP, were strengthening their techniques on fecal hormone analysis to improve captive breeding in pandas. The next step, noted Kersey, is to "build the capacity to develp knowledge, bring it back to China, and apply it to species conservation".  Dr. Kersey took a huge step to that end last month when he traveled to China to help set up the edocrine laboratory in Dujiangyan.  We will be spotlighting Dr. Kersey's journal entries from that trip (funded by PI)  over the next couple of weeks here on the blog so stay tuned!

Ju Xiao’s Triplets Celebrate 100 Days

Today marks a very special day in the Panda world, the world’s only surviving giant panda triplets, Ju Xiao's miracle babies, celebrated their 100-day birthday.  The trio were born on July 29 at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. The triplets, two boys and a girl, each weigh more than 11 pounds, up from just over 3.5 ounces at birth. They started teething at around 80 days old and have two small teeth each. The cubs alternate time with mom as she is unable to care for all of them at once.  The cubs are "swapped" on a weekly basis so that each can bond with mom and get the benefits of mother’s milk and mother’s nurturing care, a procedure developed by CCRCGP’s very own Dr. Li Desheng. CCRCGP sent the Head Nursery Keeper Mr. Wei Ming to help care for the triplets, from the Bifengxia Panda Base.  He says of the triplets,  “The first-born appears to be a very gentle girl.  The elder brother is a naughty and energetic boy with a slim figure, while the younger brother is a quite big boy.” The cubs in the nursery get a special panda formula which Wei Ming brought from the Bifengxia Panda Base.  The formula was provided by Pandas International.  At 100 days, Chimelong general manager Dong Guixin says physical exams show the cubs’ health to be ideal. Starting Wednesday, the cubs will be displayed to visitors for limited times.  They have not yet been officially named but will be soon, according to the zoo.