Saturday, July 18, 2015

Freedom At Last!

Name: Victoria Turbyfill
Class/Year: Class of 2017, Junior
Hometown: Danville, Kentucky 
Location: Ohio Wildlife Center Hospital 
Internship: Animal Care 

My last shift at OWC hospital was the first nice day we have had in a while. It felt like it had been raining for weeks on end. Weather like that affect what animals can be released. We don't want to release an animal in bad weather when they don't have or know their territory and can't escape from the rain. I remember thinking to myself "I hope I can release an animal today because its so beautiful." When I arrived Kristi asked me to call four presenters to ask if they wanted to release the animals they had brought in themselves back where they were found. When no one answered I send emails to all of them. A lady who had brought a cardinal in called back to let us know she was out of town. Kristi asked if I would like to do the honors knowing that I wanted to release something that day. The cardinal was in the flight room where maturing juvenile birds stay to learn to fly when they come in as fledglings. Of course non of the interns (all three of us working together) could not catch him, even with two nets. We asked Kristi for help and like predicted she came out with the bird in about 20 seconds. We put him in a shoe box and drove about 10 minutes to a dog park where the bird was found. We looked for a good clear spot with a lot of bushed and opened the box for him. He immediately went to the trees and checked out his surroundings. After a moment he took off into the open field behind the trees. It is the most rewarding feeling to watch an animal become healthy enough to go back to the wild and set them free. This day was one of the good days that makes working at a wild animal hospital one of the most rewarding experiences I've had. (I have an awesome video of him flying away but my computer refused to cooperate). 

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!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Adventures in Chengdu

Name: Macie Smith
Class Year: Senior
Hometown: Beavercreek, OH

Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

Well its official, Kelly and I have less than a month left here in China. It’s hard to believe that we're already over halfway through our journey here! We completed our inter-observer reliability test this week, which basically means we watched the same panda as we normally would without talking and then compared what we recorded afterwards. Through the 55 minute observation period we recorded all of the same data for proximities and only differed in recording the behavior once, so overall it went really well! We are still collecting as much data for the one year old giant panda cubs as we can and have been noticing differences in their personalities. We have been trying to hold off on analyzing the data so as not to bias our behavioral observations but we may begin figuring out how to analyze everything next week.
We have been able to see a few more training sessions with James and the adult giant pandas, which have been really interesting! We also are in the beginning stages of making enrichment for the one year old giant panda cubs that I hope we will be able to give to them in the next week or two. I'm excited to see how much the cubs actually interact with it! We also have been able to hand-feed apple slices with different colored glitter to the red pandas the afternoons before we go hunt for poop with the corresponding colored glitter. Below is a picture with one of the red pandas Kelly and I are able to feed and collect poop for!
Last weekend we went to an art/antique market to get souvenirs for our friends and families. We tried to put our Chinese skills to use and actually were able to bargain for some pretty good deals; or so we think at least. We also went to KTV with five of the interns we share a lab with here at the panda base and it was a lot of fun! KTV is essentially karaoke, only you and your friends have your own separate room to sing in and you’re able to have drinks and snacks sent to your room. There was a screen that you used to pick and change the order of the songs you sang; we tried to make it so every other song was in English or Chinese. The other interns thought I looked like Taylor Swift so I’m pretty sure they had Kelly and I sing at least ten of her songs, some of them two or three times! Not sure of a word in a T-Swift song? We might know it now! There are a few pictures of the Disney, Mickey and Minnie themed room we were in below. I definitely did not expect to spend over five hours there, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun!

In our Chinese lesson this upcoming weekend Kelly and I are supposedly going to introduce ourselves in Chinese… We’ll see how that goes! We also plan to visit the home town of one of the interns from the panda base and hopefully we’ll make it to Leshan to tour around and see the Giant Buddha. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever adventures we end up on this weekend!

photo credit: James Ayala


The Modern Toilet restaurant 

in box: Zhen Duo (back) and Qi Xi (front)