Thursday, April 17, 2014

Depressed panda provided with television set

A panda that has been suffering from weeks of depression at its foster home has been given a television set. Staff at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in China said panda Scarlett began displaying boredom and irritability after the last of her two companions, panda Macy, was taken back to Sichuan on March 31st. Scarlett and Macy, along with panda Qianqian, had been living at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park since they were displaced from their home in Sichuan when a magnitude 5 earthquake damaged the area in 2008.

Qianqian returned to Sichuan in 2012. Macy stayed for another couple of years but was likewise taken home to Sichuan last March, leaving Scarlett alone in the Yunnan foster home. A day after Macy left, park staff said Scarlett did not go back to her room, had not been eating well, and was sometimes grouchy. The feeder tried to cheer up the panda by talking and playing with her at a fixed time every day, but Scarlett remained inconsolable.

Some Yunnan residents, sensing that Scarlett might be feeling alone and forsaken, suggested that a mirror be installed on the playground, but one apparently can't fool a panda to mistake its own reflection for company. Other residents suggested installing a swing, a horizontal bar, parallel bars, and a TV near Scarlett's "bed". The park staff also found some childhood video footage of Scarlett and Macy and played them back for her to watch.

YouTube link.

So far, Scarlett has been watching the videos while eating and sounding off  a positive response to them. The staff also placed a big panda model at the place where Macy used to live to keep Scarlett company. The Yunnan Wild Animal Park staff management and staff are optimistic that the various recreation facilities they installed will help bring back Scarlett's sunny mood, and vowed to keep thinking of new ways to cheer up the depressed panda.

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