Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sparkly Poo and Karaoke Too

Name: Kelly Jackson

Class/Year: Class of 2017, Junior

Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Animal Behavior Research
            Last week, Macie and I administered our first ever “sparkle samples.” In order to tell which panda is which, different colored glitter is put into the food, and each color is given to a separate panda. One panda usually gets blue, while the other gets red, and the third panda gets no color. When the panda eats the glittered food, it will (as all animals do) eliminate it from its body, leaving a sparkly surprise for us to pick up the following morning. It’s great because the glitter is not toxic for the pandas to ingest and it makes it easier for analyzing which panda the poop came from. James cut up the apples for us, and made a hole in each piece for us to place the glitter into. Each of us spooned out the colors and placed them in the holes. Once we had enough for all of the pandas, we went on out to feed them. In addition to giving them the glitter samples, James brought a microchip reader with him . All he has to do is hold the reader over the panda for a brief moment and all of the information about the panda will appear on the screen. While James was reading the pandas, Macie and I fed the red pandas their sparkly treats. They seemed to really enjoy them because there was glitter everywhere! :)
            Although feeding them sparkles is a blast, finding their poop is now a true challenge. We specifically have to look for the colors in their fecal matter, and we can’t have two of the same colored samples. Sometimes their poop will only have a few sparkles in it, and other times it will be a massive explosion of colors. It really makes finding the samples that much more entertaining now. Plus, James always jokes about whoever finds the final poop will get a prize. Nine times out of ten, it’s James who finds the last one. :P
            Our project has been sailing smoothly the past couple of days. Our method of focal sampling when all five pandas are together, and scan sampling when they are separated, has been working out. The keepers have been entering less and less each day, which makes collecting data more efficient. Macie and I also did an inter-observer reliability test the other day. We both randomly selected a panda, and watched that panda for about an hour. Afterward, we compared what we classified for behaviors and proximity, to see if both of us are recording similar data for what actions and positions the pandas are in. Macie and I only had one time where we noted a behavior differently. But you know that they say…great minds think alike. (;
            On Saturday, we went to KTV with our friends we made here at the panda base. KTV in China is similar to karaoke in America, but on a whole new level. They have places here specifically for KTV, where you and your friends will rent out a room to sing in. We got a Mickey Mouse room, so everything was Disney themed. The room we were in also had two portable microphones and one that was a microphone stand. On the wall, they have a huge database of songs you can choose from. And yes, they have a huge database full of English songs! The video will appear on the screen, and then you just sing along! It was so different to see all of the Chinese videos compared to the American videos! One of our friends, Fe-Fe is a very good singer and sang the main song “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic. My favorite was when our friends sang “Let it Go” in Chinese while we sang it in English! It was a cool mash-up.
            Sunday, we headed on over to one of the art markets here in Chengdu. They have so many different little antiques and knick knacks for you to buy. From Chinese paintings to little sculptures, to jewlrey, the market was full of a wide variety of things. Of course, you can always bargain your way with the prices, and we ended up getting some good deals on really unique souveniers for everyone back at home. :)
            This week we are hoping to provide enrichment to the panda cubs. I can’t wait to see how they react! Hopefully we can get a good video of it. (: It is crazy that Macie and I have less than a month here in China! So little time, yet still so many more adventures to be had!

Me feeding one of the red pandas! :)

Singing some KTV :P

Selfie with all of our intern friends!

Paintings of the Titanic from the art market

Lazy little pandas. :)

Posing with the bae. ;)

Qi Xi loved playing in her crate!

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