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    Tao Tao, a giant panda cub, is undergoing a process called "wild training" in preparation for his release into the wild. Watch Tao Tao take the final test he must pass in order for his training to be considered a success.
     
    Watch the video from the Nat Geo WILD program “Destination Wild,” then consult the tabs for some basic comprehension and critical-thinking questions, links to related materials, and a short glossary list of vocabulary used in the video.
    1. Take a look at our MapMaker Interactive layer on the current and historic species range of the giant panda. How has the panda’s range changed over time?

      The species range of the giant panda has shrunk dramatically. Giant pandas once roamed across southeastern China and possibly as far south as Vietnam and Myanmar. Today, the species range of the giant panda is restricted to central China.

    2. Why do you think scientists are dressed like pandas? 

      By wearing panda suits, the keepers at the panda enclosure minimize the animals’ stress and human attachment.

    3. Why are the scientists carrying around a stuffed leopard?

      The test carried out in the video involved scientists making sure Tao Tao, the juvenile panda, has maintained his natural fear of predators despite having never encountered one. Jackals and leopards are natural predators in the panda habitat. Researchers were not going to let a real leopard in to the protected panda enclosure, so they brought in a stuffed version, covered it in leopard smells (urine and droppings), and played an audio recording of a leopard to see how Tao Tao would react.

    4. Those panda suits don’t look that convincing, and neither does the leopard. Do you think Tao Tao was fooled by either one? Why?

      Yes, he was probably fooled. As we learned in the video, pandas have poor eyesight, so the basic costumes probably fooled him. The spot-on scents, meanwhile, fooled his sophisticated nose.

    5. Besides sight, what other senses do the scientists in the video use to try to fool Tao Tao?

      Smell! Scientists coat the stuffed leopard with real leopard feces (poop) and urine (pee) to make it smell authentic.

      Sound! Scientists use a recording of a growling leopard to convince poor Tao Tao that she’s facing a real predator.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    authentic Adjective

    real or genuine.

    captive breeding Noun

    reproduction of rare species controlled by humans in a closed environment, such as a zoo.

    curiosity Noun

    desire to know more about a subject.

    disturb Verb

    to bother or interfere with.

    droppings Plural Noun

    dung of certain animals, usually in pellet form.

    dummy Adjective

    reproduction or fake version of something.

    enclosure Noun

    area surrounded by a wall, fence, or other physical boundary.

    encounter Verb

    to meet, especially unexpectedly.

    experiment Verb

    to try or test an idea.

    feces Noun

    waste material produced by the living body of an organism.

    hunt Verb

    to pursue and kill an animal, usually for food.

    nearsighted Adjective

    able to see objects at a short distance. Also called myopic.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    radio collar Noun

    a band put around the neck of an animal that uses radio signals to track the animal's movement.

    species range Noun

    native, geographic area in which an organism can be found. Range also refers to the geographic distribution of a particular species.

    Encyclopedic Entry: species range
    superior Adjective

    better than something else.

    telemetry Noun to transmit data automatically and at a distance, usually between a ground station and a moving source, such as a satellite or radio collar.
    urine Noun

    liquid waste excreted by an animal's kidneys.

    vulnerable Adjective

    capable of being hurt.

    wildlife Noun

    organisms living in a natural environment.

    wildlife biologist Noun

    person who studies animals in their native habitats.