Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have a new hobby: painting! As part of our behavioral enrichment program, keepers have started painting with the pandas. Many animals throughout the zoo paint already, and the pandas seem to enjoy it as much as the other animals. Only non-toxic paints are used (the same ones that preschoolers use for finger-painting) so they are safe for the animals. Tian Tian painted extensively on Sunday, and after he was done, even used the paint to “scent anoint.” Pandas will often rub a particularly appealing scent around their ears. Visitors have probably seen Mei Xiang scent anointing with old branches and bark outside. The paints seem to be just as exciting for the pandas when it comes to scent anointing!
To keep things interesting for the pandas, painting will just be another type of enrichment that will be used on a rotating basis. If they painted every day, it wouldn’t be as novel or interesting. So look closely at the pandas in the future—you may just see a small smudge of green or blue paint, amongst the black and white fur! When you see that, you’ll know that they’ve recently been practicing their art.
Source: National Zoo