Just having the novelty of exploring a new habitat is extremely enriching for all animals, but especially Xiao Qi Ji. We did not have to put any special items in the exhibit, just his normal diet items, which he was not as interested in engaging with as much as the environment itself.
He spent most of the morning exploring on his own while Mei Xiang happily ate bamboo. Occasionally, he ate near Mei Xiang, and sometimes rested near where she was eating at the time. They played in the afternoon, just like they tend to do when they are in the outdoor habitats on the other side of the building.
Xiao Qi Ji has now been in this new habitat a handful of times and has climbed trees, investigated the rockwork across from the red panda habitat, picked out some new resting spots (and napped there) and learned that he can interact with his keepers through the glass when they are on their way to the red panda exhibit!
Since this habitat is still new to Xiao Qi Ji, he has not found his “spot” yet. We anticipate that with more time in this space he will find a favorite spot to hang out in, much like he has in Mei Xiang and Tian Tian’s habitats.
Xiao Qi Ji’s behaviors indicate that he is comfortable in this space—he eats, naps, plays and explores. Even if Mei Xiang chooses to be inside, he will wander outside independently and do all of these things.
Now that keepers feel comfortable with Xiao Qi Ji in all of the panda habitats and know that he is comfortable in each exhibit, there will be more flexibility with the day-to-day routine at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. This creates the ability to move all three pandas around, which is very enriching for them!