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A Panda Keepers Life Weight Watcher

        Animals | Endangered Species

Morgan weighs pandas and bamboo.
Morgan weighs pandas and bamboo.
DCL

It's a little before 8:00 a.m. and Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are definitely morning pandas. Morgan has already opened their adjoining dens, and they are tussling inside one of the indoor enclosures.

In the evenings the pandas are kept separate so that keepers can easily identify and mark urine and feces samples. Morgan says the pandas also need quiet time alone.

"At some point in their lives they are going to have to spend some time apart, so it's a good time and a good way to reinforce that," Morgan says. "She [Mei Xiang] doesn't mind. He [Tian Tian] gets a little antsy sometimes and wants to be able to go over and say 'Hey, wanna play?'"

After some early morning playtime, the pandas get ready for their morning weigh-in. From the keeper cage situated between the indoor enclosure and the yard, Morgan coaxes the pandas to sit on a giant scale suitable for a giant panda. She notes that they are growing slowly but steadily, a sign that things are going well.

Next Morgan weighs bamboo for breakfast, dragging leafy stalks into a basket scale. The pandas get between 3 and 4 kilograms of locally grown, yellow groove bamboo for an indoor breakfast and then another 5 kilograms for outdoor dining. Before the day is done they will have eaten about 50 to 60 pounds of bamboo.


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