Survey of historical information

The behavioural specialist on the Biomedical Survey team used a standardised form (Table 5.1) to collect relevant health and reproductive histories on every giant panda from senior keepers and/or managers at all four institutions. These data were relevant for establishing a baseline on health and reproductive history for each individual as well as ascertaining early rearing information. To ensure consistency, one person (with a Chinese translator) collected all information.

Keeper survey of behavioural traits

As a complementary tool, we also administered a detailed survey to animal keepers, in Chinese, which allowed a subjective assessment of specific behaviours. This method was based on earlier work of Gold and Maple (1994; gorilla), Fagen and Fagen (1996; brown bear), Wielebnowski

Life histories and behavioural traits Table 5.1. Giant Panda Biomedical Survey individual animal historical data form

If female, did oestrus take place?

Placed with a male when in oestrus?

Identification number of male

Did copulation take place?

If not, why did pairing fail?

Did pregnancy take place?

Abortion, live or dead birth?

Identification number of offspring, if survived

Length of offspring survival

Artificially inseminated?

Identification number of male sperm donor

Was sperm fresh or frozen?

Did pregnancy take place from artificial insemination?

Abortion, live or dead birth?

Identification number of offspring, if survived

Length of each offspring's survival

Housed with males in non-breeding season?

Health problems or surgical procedures?

Studbook number/name_


Date or year of birth_

Wild caught or captive born?_

How long has the animal been at the facility? _

How many times has the animal been moved between facilities? Other comments_

(1999; cheetah) and was identical to that used by Feaver et al. (1986; domestic cat).

Twenty-three behavioural adjectives (Box 5.1) were measured on a form by 38 keepers at four institutions. In brief, each form listed the 23 adjectives next to a calibrated horizontal line. Each line was 100 centimetres long and was a continuous scale for a particular adjective. The minimum score (0) was placed at the left terminus to the line, and the maximum score (100) at the right terminus. Keepers scored each panda that they personally cared for at their home institution, marking every

Box 5.1. Behavioural definitions of adjectives used in the keeper survey

(1) Active: moves around frequently

(2) Aggressive to other pandas: frequently reacts with hostility and threats to conspecifics

(3) Alert: pays attention to surroundings and changes in environment

(4) Anxious: seems worried and apprehensive

(5) Amiable: pleasant and good natured

(6) Calm: not easily disturbed by changes in the environment

(7) Curious: readily explores new situations, environments or objects

(8) Eccentric: shows stereotypic behaviour or unusual behaviour

(9) Oestrus strength (females only): intensity of demonstrated oestrual behaviours

(10) Friendly to other pandas: approaches and seeks contact with conspecifics

(11) Friendly to people: approaches people readily and in a friendly manner

(12) Fearful of other pandas: reacts to conspecifics by moving away

(13) Fearful of people: reacts to people by moving away

(14) Insecure: seems scared or threatened easily

(15) Interest in other pandas during oestrus: reacts with positive interest in opposite sex during oestrus

(16) Irritable: reacts excessively to events and situations

(17) Oblivious: unresponsive to, and seemingly unaware of, significant events and situations

(18) Playful: engages in play with other pandas or objects in its surroundings

(19) Secure: shows confidence and calmness when dealing with a variety of situations

(20) Shy: reluctant to engage in social situations

(21) Solitary: spends time alone

(22) Spirited: abundant physical and mental energy

(23) Tense: shows restraint in movement and posture; carries its body stiffly individual's score by placing an X along the line next to each behavioural adjective. The distance from 0 to the mark on the horizontal line was measured in centimetres, with each animal scored from 0 to 100 for each adjective. Keepers were instructed not to discuss their ratings of individual giant pandas with cohort keepers before providing their scores. If questions arose during the survey, answers were provided immediately via the translator. Each animal was scored by one to six keepers. Surveys by three keepers were excluded from further analysis because of communication difficulties (all animals received the same score for each trait). Remaining data were analysed by binary logistics regression.

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