Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Enrichment for Giant Pandas

Enrichment helps animals demonstrate their natural behavior, adds variety to their day, allows them exercise, gives them choices in their environment, and enhances their well-being. Enrichment also gives Zoo scientists the chance to study and observe the animals' behavior. What the scientists learn can benefit both Zoo animals and wild animals.

There are several different kinds of enrichment, including objects, sounds, and smells that challenge the animals, and stimulating and naturalistic enclosures.

Tian Tian biting into a fruitsicleKeepers work at varying the pandas' routine by preparing toys with an added twist: Honey, apples, and leaf-eater biscuits are often put inside to provide a challenge. They are also sometimes given water bottles, blankets, burlap bags, and boxes. Another option is the fruitsicle—frozen fruit juice and water, sometimes with cut up fruit.

Most of the pandas' toys are made of heavy-duty plastic, rubber, or bamboo since those are materials that can withstand the force of a bear whose jaws crush bamboo all day!