How to train a Red Panda

Photo: Max Birkendorf/Zooschule Neuwied
Jacques has achieved his goal: the delicious pear. Photo: Max Birkendorf/Zooschule Neuwied

Red Pandas aren’t cuddly toys and can be quite shy. But if there is a medical examination necessary the veteranists have to look at the Red Pandas – and even have to touch them.

To be able to do this without an anesthetic, the zoos practice a special medical training with the Red Pandas. “It’s also a meaningful activity for the animals,” says Max Birkenhof from Neuwied Zoo in Germany. Every morning the 10-year-old female Red Panda Chima and the two-year-old Jacques do their exercises.

Zookeeper Jennifer Otte attracts the two Red Pandas with a small piece of pear or banana from the treetops down to the lower branches.

Photos: Max Birkendorf/Zooschule Neuwied

Once this is done, the piece of fruit is fixed on a long thin bamboo stick and held close to the animals. As soon as one of the pandas – mostly Jacques, his partner Chima is still very shy – touches the treat with his nose, a clicking sound is heard. A clicker, which is also used in training dogs, signaled that the Red Panda now can take the fruit.

Every morning the bamboo stick moves closer towards the Zookeeper. The goal is achieved when the Red Panda calmly eats in front of her and thereby can also be touched.