Not all enrichment toys involve food, though. Teeter-totters, tubs and mirrors can also encourage our red pandas to be active and explore their surroundings. The first time our male, Jackie, saw the toy mirror, he was startled and started playing with the tree it was leaning against, looking for other red pandas.
A huge component of caring for red pandas is teaching them husbandry behaviors that enable us to monitor their health and body condition. We have a positive reinforcement training program and work with them daily. However, training is completely voluntary. If they do not want to train one day, they are free to spend their time doing other things. If they do choose to participate, they are rewarded with some of their favorite foods.
Both of our red pandas are trained to do a variety of behaviors. They know their names and to come if called by their keepers. This is very helpful for when a severe storm is suddenly rolling through and we need to get them inside to safety.
If presented with a crate, our red pandas know to enter it. Sometimes we’ll move them around their exhibit in the crates to get them used them. Jackie particularly adores this and we have to hide his crate from him when we don’t want him in it. If he sees the crate, he wants to go in it and go for a ride. While it’s very sweet, it is also helpful for if he’s not feeling well. We can quickly get him in and transport him up to the vet hospital.