A few weeks ago, we began husbandry training sessions with our 10-month-old giant panda cub, Xiao Qi Ji. At this point, he is starting to get the hang of target training! We present him with a target—a ball on the end of a dowel—and he instinctively sniffs to investigate. Whenever he touches his nose to the target, he receives a reward. Usually, it is his favorite food: cooked sweet potato!
We do this training in the indoor habitat early in the morning, after Xiao Qi Ji’s mother, Mei Xiang, has shifted outside. Our cub tends to sleep in, but if we ask him to follow the target for a treat, he will shift outside on his own.