Giant Panda Behavior Watch
Sheila Franco (lead author; presenter)
As long as there have been giant pandas at the National Zoological Park (NZP), behavioral information has been collected on these endangered animals. Giant pandas first arrived at the National Zoo in 1972. To better understand the habits and improve husbandry of these rare animals, research scientists began studying the original pair of giant pandas at NZP, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing. The current inhabitants of the Giant Panda Habitat, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, are studied 20 hours per week, in addition to occasional special behavior watches and studies.
This presentation will review the behavior study that has been, and continues to be, conducted on Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. The basics of animal behavior watch will be reviewed, including the development of an ethogram, choice of sampling methods, purpose of behavior watches, and method of data collection. Sampling methods that are used for giant panda behavior watches include scan sampling, all occurrences, and continuous data collection. Training and reliability testing for behavior watchers will also be reviewed. After providing an overview on animal behavior watch methods, the specifics of the giant panda longitudinal watch, special behavior watches, and special studies will be covered. Special watches to be discussed include the 24-hour, breeding, and pregnancy watches.