The head keeper of Sunshine Nursery is Chen Min, who has worked as a panda keeper for 16 years at the Chengdu Panda Base. Chen is a East-talking and elegant woman,whose work photographs have been featured several times in many panda albums and newspapers. She Feels that her extensive time with pandas has taught her how to live simply and honestly.
The head keeper of the Moonlight Nursery is Deng 7110, who has worked as a panda keeper for 13 years at the Chengdu Panda Base. Deng is 34 years old, but looks much younger. He is very familiar with the current generation of pandas,and has regularly worked with them over the years. When discussing pandas, he states that the Chengdu Panda Base’s ex-situ conservation efforts have resulted in successful life spans for the first and second generation of captive pandas.
Throughout his 13 Years of work he has gained immense practical and international working experience, traveling to both Spain and the United States of America aiding panda mothers with
Both head keepers at the Sunshine and Moonlight Nursery Houses say that a good panda keeper must learn not only the pandas’ behaviors and physical condition, but also their different personalities. For example, Jiao Zi likes to smack her lips after finishing her meal and sleep relaxed,spread eagle with her limbs stretched out. Below are several examples of pandas that require special observation by their keepers.
Both Ya Xing and Ya Shuang were born sickly. At two years old, they were started on herbal pill supplements for a whole year in an attempt to address digestive problems. As a result,both animals have a strong aversion to pills.
Qi Fu’s head was pinched in the birth canal,causing brain damage and resulting in developmental delays. Tremendous patience is necessary when teaching her new movements and procedures.
From a set of triplets born last year, Sa Er is the only survivor. She has a large overbite and is very nimble. Her favorite pastime is to climb to the highest treetop to play.
Ha Lan is considered by many to be a “Panda Hero” as he has helped produce great breeding results, and is quite a gentlemen when interacting with the females. Even when a female becomes aggressive, he still maintains a positive mood and avoids fighting with her.
As a panda keeper, the most important job is to assist panda mothers with newborn cubs, especially in the first month after giving birth.There is a lot of hard work, and can be wrought with conflict with inexperienced panda mothers.
When Mei Mei gave birth to Qi Zhen, she balked at the sound of her newborn crying. In a panic, she grabbed the cub, and threw her across the enclosure as she climbed up the bars attempting to escape. This resulted in the newborn being injured with a long cut to the chest and rapid blood loss. Fortunately the keepers and veterinarians were able to save the cub by quickly sewing 7 stitches to close the wound. The cub’s name, Qi Zhen meaning “seven stitches” in Chinese, was chosen to mark the dramatic events surrounding her arrival.
Mei Mei gradually learned how to be a good mother and was eventually befitted with the term “Hero Mother”. She lived in Japan For 8 years,giving birth to 9 cubs in 5 litters, 7 of which survived. It is typical in the wild for a panda mother to abandon one twin so is to provide the healthiest one with the best chance of survival. Unlike most pandas Mei Mei did not abandon her twins but held both tightly in her arms and alternately nursed them. Her two cubs thus grew normally and healthily. Mei Mei created a new world record of a panda mother feeding panda twins simultaneously without human help, and she assisted with great contributions through building the largest overseas captive panda population. In 2011, Wakayama County awarded Mei Mei a noble title of Lord.
For those panda mothers that do not know instinctively what to do, it is the keeper’s job to teach them step by step how to be a good mother.
Qi Fu is a good example. Initially Qi Fu did not hold her newborn properly prompting ceaseless crying. But with the keeper patiently guiding her outside the bars, Qi Fu attempted many different postures to hold the baby correctly, and eventually she learned how to make the cub comfortable. Every panda female has four nipples, but depending on her posture, her body weight may hide these nipples, making it difficult for the cub to find them and nurse. The keeper prevented this from happening, and guided Qi Fu through the bars saying, “Qi Fu, Sit up straight. Yes, just like that, and sit Lip a little bit more…”. Ideally panda cubs will nurse on all four teats during a nursing session, thus allowing for optimal nourishment as well as stimulates milk production.
The first 30 days after a birth are a critical time For bod1 newborn cub and the panda mother, and keepers are required to observe panda mothers 24 hours a day. Crucial moments occur during feeding and sleeping, as unconsciously a panda mother may smother her newborn, which
lends to very dangerous situations. Keepers must maintain close and careful observation.