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Panda Accused of Faking Pregnancy To Get Better Food, Air Conditioning

Expectant pandas are moved to air-conditioned rooms and showered with more buns, fruit and bamboo.

Headshot of Dominique MosbergenBy Dominique Mosbergen – News Editor, The Huffington Post – Posted: 07/30/2015 12:57 AM EDT | Edited: 07/31/2015 02:07 PM EDT

Pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, names together mean "reunion", eat bamboo at a panda base in Ya’an, southwest China’s Sichuan province, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. A few weeks after this photo was taken, the duo were moved to Taiwan. (Associated Press)

Keepers at the Taipei Zoo were excited. Resident giant panda Yuan Yuan was exhibiting signs of pregnancy — an all-too-elusive event among captive pandas.

There were tell-tale symptoms, like a loss of appetite and a thickening of the uterus. Yuan Yuan’s fecal progesterone concentration was also on the rise.

Yet despite these promising signs, the panda’s pregnancy was a false alarm.

According to China’s Southern Metropolis Daily, ultrasound scans determined that Yuan Yuan, who was artificially inseminated earlier this year, was not pregnant. Now the panda is being accused of faking the pregnancy as a way of getting her caretakers to shower her with better food and care.

Pregnant pandas are typically treated like queens. As China Daily notes, the expectant bears are moved into “single rooms with air conditioning” and given “round-the-clock care.” They receive more buns, fruit and bamboo as well.

Panda experts have speculated that Yuan Yuan, who gave birth to a cub in 2013, may have been feigning pregnancy to reap these added benefits.

Taiwan’s panda cub Yuan Zai, right, and her mother Yuan Yuan enjoy Yuan Zai’s first birthday cake at the Taipei Zoo in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (Associated Press)

Last year, another female panda named Ai Hin was accused of trying to pull the same trick. The panda, who lives at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, exhibited pregnancy symptoms for two months before experts determined that she didn’t actually have a cub in the oven.

“After showing prenatal signs, the [panda] ‘mothers-to-be’ are [pampered],” Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base, told CNN last year. “So some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Other panda experts disagree with these accusations.

Zhang Heming, director of the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, told the Guardian last year that pseudo-pregnancies are actually fairly common in the panda world. He attributed the pandas’ behavior to "more of a hormonal issue than a deliberate ruse."

"This phenomenon occurs in 10 to 20 percent of pandas," he said. "After the mother panda is inseminated, if her health isn’t so good, the pregnancy will terminate, but she’ll still behave as if she’s pregnant."

According to a 2010 LiveScience report, scientists "don’t know why pseudo-pregnancies happen, or if they have evolved for an evolutionary purpose."

"In a sense there’s no answer, but there is speculation that perhaps pandas’ bodies just rehearse pregnancy all the time," Lisa Stevens, curator of primates and pandas at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, told the news outlet.

Also on HuffPost:

Alamy AK58HY Giant Panda Cub  Kin Cheung/AP One of the one month old Panda triples receives a body check at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong province Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. China announced the birth of extremely rare panda triplets in a further success for the country’s artificial breeding program. The three cubs were born July 29 in the southern city of Guangzhou. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Today marks her first birthday and the zoo is marking the event with a traditional ‘Zhuazhou’ ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Getty Images

YA’AN, CHINA – JUNE 29: A giant panda climbs onto a platform at the panda research base on June 29, 2015 in Ya’an, China. China’s Sichuan province is home to the majority of the the world’s nearly 1,900 endangered giant pandas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

leungchopan panda eating bamboo

  Alamy AJC9T9  -  ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

A woman poses for photographers with the part of the 1,600 paper pandas, created by French artist Paulo Grangeon, in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building during the month-long "1600 Pandas World Tour" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) ABA PREFECTURE, CHINA – JULY 05: (CHINA OUT) Aerial view of people, wearing panda costumes with mahjong tiles, playing mahjong during a mahjong competition at a theme park in Jiuzhai Village on July 5, 2015 in Aba Perfecture, Sichuan Province of China. Over one hundred people wearing panda costumes with mahjong tiles played on a one hundred-square-meter mahjong table during a mahjong competition. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)  

Getty Images

CHENGDU, CHINA – JUNE 30: Giants pandas pause from eating bamboo in an enclosure at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on June 30, 2015 in Chengdu, China. Twin female cubs were born by artificial insemination to seven-year-old Kelin at the center on June 22. China’s Sichuan province is home to the majority of the the world’s nearly 1,900 endangered giant pandas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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August 1, 2015 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pets, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Want a Well-Behaved Dog? Do More of This and Less of That

Dog Training

Story at-a-glance
  • Recent studies on canine behavior are proving that positive reinforcement training is much more effective (not to mention humane) than training involving punishment.
  • A couple of studies even point to the probability that training methods that involve punishment can actually create problem behaviors in dogs.
  • Positive reinforcement training is based on the simple notion that rewarding your dog for desired behavior will encourage more of that behavior.

By Dr. Becker

A growing collection of recent studies is proving that positive reinforcement training of dogs is much more effective and ultimately successful than training involving dominance and punishment.

Some of the studies even demonstrated that training involving punishment actually created additional problem behaviors – certainly an outcome no dog guardian deliberately sets out to achieve.

Behavior Training That Hurts Rather Than Helps

A study titled “The importance of consistency in the training of dogs”1was conducted at the University of Southampton in the UK and the University of Life Sciences in Norway. It was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research in May 2007.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether punishment was a risk factor for problem behaviors, and the combined effect on obedience and specific problem behaviors of reward, punishment, attitudes and rule structure. Rule structure is defined as permissiveness vs. strictness, and consistency in applying rules.

The study showed that punishment correlates negatively with obedience and positively with training problems. Rule structure, including consistency of the owners, was associated with higher levels of obedience and less training problems.

In another study conducted at the University of Bristol in the UK and published in the September-October 2008 Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research2, results suggest dogs trained only with positive reinforcement exhibited fewer problem behaviors. And dogs whose owners used punishment in training were much more likely to show a fear response to other dogs.

Additional Positive Reinforcement Training Studies

  • A study titled “Behaviour of smaller and larger dogs: Effects of training methods, inconsistency of owner behaviour and level of engagement in activities with the dog”3 and published in March 2010 showed that increased anxiety and fear was related to a more frequent use of punishment in smaller dogs.

    The researchers concluded smaller dog owners can significantly improve obedience in their pets by being more consistent in interactions and engaging regularly in play and training activities with them. Behavioral problems could be reduced by avoiding habits of punishment that might reinforce fear or fear-related aggression.

  • In a “Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors”4 conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and published in early 2009, confrontational methods applied by dog owners before their pets were presented for a behavior consultation were associated with aggressive responses.

    The researchers concluded it is important that owners understand the risks associated with such training methods as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” … “growl at dog” … “physically force the release of an item from a dog’s mouth” … “alpha roll” … “stare at or stare [dog] down” … “dominance down” … “grab dog by jowls and shake.” These confrontational methods elicited an aggressive response from at least a quarter of the dogs on which they were attempted.

  • In a paper published in 2004 by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK5, it was determined that in the general dog-owning population, dogs trained using punishment are no more obedient than those trained by other means, and, furthermore, they exhibit increased numbers of potentially problematic behaviors.

    Because reward-based methods are associated with higher levels of obedience and fewer problematic behaviors, their use is a more effective and welfare-compatible alternative to punishment for the average dog owner.

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training in 5 Simple Steps

The goal is to use very small-sized treats (pea sized is good, and you can even use frozen peas if your dog seems to like them) and verbal praise and affection to encourage desired behaviors in your dog.

  • Come up with short, preferably one-word commands for the behaviors you want to teach your pet. Examples are Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc. Make sure all members of your family consistently use exactly the same command for each behavior.
  • As soon as your dog performs the desired behavior, reward him immediately with a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time he responds appropriately to a command. You want him to connect the behavior he performed with the treat. This of course means you’ll need to have treats on you whenever you give your dog commands in the beginning.
  • Keep training sessions short and fun. You want your dog to associate good things with obeying your commands. You also want to use training time as an opportunity to deepen your bond with your pet.
  • Gradually back off the treats and use them only intermittently once your dog has learned a new behavior. Eventually they’ll no longer be necessary, but you should always reward your dog with verbal praise whenever he obeys a command.
  • Continue to use positive reinforcement to maintain the behaviors you desire. Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in your pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence.

If you treat our dog/pets with love and consider them part of the family instead of a creature you have or want control over they will respond accordingly sensing your love, concern and loyalty to them… and you will also not mind their less than perfect behavior or obedience.

August 4, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Thing To Do When Your Pet Runs Away

Smart steps to take to find your lost pet

The First Thing to Do When Your Pet Runs Away
First: “Call all shelters within a 60-mile radius of your home,” not just those nearest your home, says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Humane Society of the United States. Between 600,000 and 750,000 cats and dogs are reclaimed by owners from shelters each year. You can also try your police department and local veterinarians.
Then: “Make a flyer with a current picture of your pet that shows details of its face and the proportions of its body,” says Kari Harendorf, an animal trainer and the host of Animal Planet’s K9 Karma. “Include its sex, age, color, and weight; the date and area the animal was last seen; and your phone number, and post the flyers everywhere — schools, community centers, even the pet-food aisle of your grocery store.”
By Kathy Squires

October 29, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, Pets | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment