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Seeing Red...pandas, that is

RedpandatrainingIn celebration of National Zoo Keeper week, we asked Melissa Durham what she loves about her job:

"When I first started here, I had a particular affinity for otters and birds of prey, but within the first few months I developed a soft spot for a majority of the animals I worked with. When I moved from Hooves and Horns to the Children’s Zoo, I got the chance to work with the red pandas for the first time in my life. I immediately fell in love with them (how could you not!) and I’m now their primary trainer.

Red pandas are more on the shy side, so it took a while to develop the trust you need to be able to train with them. I’ve been able to train both our pandas to voluntarily get on a scale for weights and receive injections. Carys, our female panda, is far more interested in training, and I’ve been able to do much more with her. She currently knows seven behaviors (including learning how to hold still for an ultrasound), and her repertoire is growing. Working with the animals to do these voluntary behaviors makes daily care as well as veterinary procedures less stressful on both staff and animals."