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.
    • Answer

      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.

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

    • Answer

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

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

    • Answer

      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.

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

    • Answer

      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.

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

    • Answer

      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.

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
Plural 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.

Noun

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

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.