Be sure to read Part 1, Wild CSI: Pandas!
On day three, the students were back in the lab learning about behavioral biology and a very important tool used in this discipline, the ethogram. An ethogram is a detailed list of behaviors and activities of a particular species. As a panda behaviorist, I use our panda ethogram on a daily basis. It’s an invaluable tool that can help us understand why an individual animal is engaged in a particular behavior, as well as understanding the general behavioral patterns of a species as a whole.
I created a scaled-down version of our panda ethogram for the students and put together two different video clips for them to observe and decode. Video A contained footage of Bai Yun during the breeding season, and Video B contained footage of her during a non-breeding time of year. The task for the students was to decode Bai Yun’s behavior, using their ethograms, and determine whether or not she was in estrus.