Happy national panda day! Here at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Asia Trail exhibit, we are celebrating with giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, as well as our red panda pair, Asa and Jackie. We look forward to special days like these because they give us an opportunity to get extra creative with planning our animals’ activities for the day.
It goes without saying that both giant and red pandas are incredibly charismatic and intelligent. Today and every day, we encourage them to keep physically active and mentally sharp by presenting them with a variety of enrichment. This can be anything from sensory experiences (like spices for scent-anointing or a tub full of bubbles for popping), to physical objects and toys (like boomer balls and puzzle feeders), to social interactions (like husbandry training sessions or painting with keepers) and environmental stimuli (like giving them access to a different yard or adding new groundcover to explore).
No matter which activity or experience we give the pandas, it is important that they have an opportunity to use their natural behaviors and choose how to spend their time. In honor of national panda day, let’s take a look at some of our giant and red pandas’ favorite enrichment activities!