Giant pandas are among the world’s best loved animals. They are fixtures of animal stories for children, an inspiration for toys, objects of diplomacy and propaganda, and the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund. They used to roam much of China. Now, they are found only in a few small enclaves. About 1,900 giant pandas live in the wild, and over 300 live in captivity around the world.
In captivity, caretakers help the mother pandas to take care of newborn cubs, thus helping to ensure the survival of both. During the time that the cubs are away from mom, caretakers serve as surrogate mothers, feeding, playing with, and caring for the newborn cubs.
Pandas are good climbers and very agile in trees at a very young age. They often look more awkward on land than they do in trees. Pandas take to trees to scout an area, escape intruders, or even take a nap.
Young pandas are also very curious and love to play. Scientists believe this is because they are able to eat so many different things and like to explore and check things out to see if they are edible.
These two traits were put to the test recently at a care facility in Chengdu, China. Two panda cubs were placed in an air-conditioned room because it was too hot outside to play. One of the cubs, a 10-month-old named Seven Joy, like any child, quickly became bored and used his climbing skills to reach a window. Seven Joy taught his roommate to also climb up to the window sill.
They struggled to reach the window sill, only to discover that their caretaker was right outside. At first, it appeared that they wanted her to come in and play with them, but the real reason for all of their effort was to escape to the outside and freedom. Still, when the weather improves, they will be free to do want all children love to do, go outside and play!
Translated by Yi Ming
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