A Panda Keepers Life Panda Trainer

Morgan talks chow and training
Morgan talks chow and training

Morgan heaps it on thick. Panda praise comes easily for her. "You're just brilliant," she says to Mei Xiang, who has pressed a fleshy paw pad against Morgan's palm. The game they are playing is a medical exam in disguise. Morgan can check panda paws and other body parts by asking Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to mimic her movements behind the chain-link fence of the keeper cage. The pandas are rewarded with treats resembling doggie biscuits, which Morgan calls "chow."

Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are in complete control of these training sessions, able to leave when they've had enough and are tired of the activity. Sometimes Morgan is sure the pandas are training her.

"She's working on training us still," she says of Mei Xiang. "She sleeps when she wants 'cause it's a lot of hard work training us."

Now that the pandas have had their indoor breakfast and some one-on-one time with their number-one keeper, it's time for their morning constitutional. The two will spend much of the remainder of the day outdoors eating, playing and sleeping.