Giant pandas living in zoos could be suffering from ‘jet lag,’ study says

Join CNN’s Surprise Idea science e-newsletter. Discover the universe with information on fascinating discoveries, scientific developments and extra.

Big pandas residing in captivity could possibly be affected by “jet lag” if their physique clocks don’t match their environments, scientists say.

This might have a major affect on the well-being and habits of the endangered species, in response to a brand new examine printed Monday within the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Like all animals, pandas have a circadian clock — an inner physique clock that runs in roughly 24-hour cycles — and it’s regulated by cues from their surroundings. However issues come up when the cues they’re uncovered to in captivity don’t match those of their pure surroundings, the examine discovered.

This could possibly be very important to contemplating the welfare of animals in captivity, a lot of that are at excessive danger of extinction within the wild — together with big pandas.

“Animals, including humans, have evolved rhythms to synchronize their internal environment with the external environment,” mentioned lead examine writer Kristine Gandia, a PhD pupil on the College of Stirling in Scotland, in a information launch.

“When internal clocks are not synchronized with external cues like light and temperature, animals experience adverse effects. In humans, this can range from jet lag to metabolic issues and seasonal affective disorder,” Gandia mentioned.

Gandia and a workforce of observers got down to perceive how the “jet lag” of residing in latitudes that animals didn’t evolve in can have an effect on them.

“This is definitely a concept that could apply to all captive animals,” Gandia instructed CNN.

Big pandas had been chosen as the main target for the examine partly as a result of they reside extremely seasonal lives. Migrations happen in spring as a result of the pandas eat a sure species of bamboo and go in the hunt for new shoots. Spring can also be mating season.

Their therapy in captivity additionally lent itself nicely to the examine, Gandia added.

“Pandas are very good animals to focus on,” she mentioned. “They are very popular in zoos and there are a lot which have ‘panda cams’ (webcams from the animals’ enclosures), so we can see how their behavior changes across different latitudes.”

These cameras enabled the scientists to observe the pandas’ habits throughout a 24-hour interval. In the meantime, different elements equivalent to common visits by zookeepers may additionally have an effect on the animals’ circadian clocks.

Gandia defined to CNN that the latitudinal vary for large pandas is between 26 and 42 levels north. Matching latitudes may be thought-about between 26 and 42 levels south, she mentioned, as these mirror the temperature and lighting circumstances.

A workforce of 13 observers, led by Gandia, monitored 11 big pandas at six totally different zoos, all of which had been born in captivity. The zoos haven’t been recognized however they had been roughly cut up between the animals’ pure latitudes and people exterior that vary. People who matched had been in latitudes equal to their pure habitat in China, however may have been in different nations.

The observers studied the pandas each month for a yr, taking common readings to see how their habits modified.

In an e mail to CNN, Gandia defined: “We recorded essentially the entire repertoire of giant panda behavior, trying to account for behaviors that are positive, neutral and negative indicators for welfare. So, this would include behaviors like play, grooming, and the sexual-related behaviors as positive behaviors, and drinking and urinating/defecating as neutral maintenance behaviors, and several abnormal/stereotypic behaviors as negative behaviors, with pacing being the most common.”

Daylight and temperature had been each discovered to be vital cues for the pandas.

Gandia defined the comparability with jetlag, telling CNN: “The ‘jet lag’ does not refer to the acute inability to sleep at proper times resulting from quickly moving between different time zones, but rather to the potential lack of ability to fully adapt to environmental conditions and cues at latitudes that the pandas have not evolved to live in. Therefore, it could result in certain internal clocks or behaviors being desynchronised with the environment or with each other.”

The captive animals displayed three peaks of exercise throughout a 24-hour interval — one among which was at evening — simply as they’d of their pure habitat. Sexual habits was solely recorded throughout the daytime in grownup pandas, which could possibly be a neater time for them to seek out mates within the wild.

These residing in captivity exterior of their dwelling latitude had been discovered to be much less lively, which can have been as a result of the daylight and temperature cues differed from these of their pure surroundings.

“When giant pandas are housed at higher latitudes — meaning they experience more extreme seasons than they evolved with — this changes their levels of general activity and abnormal behavior,” Gandia mentioned.

For extra CNN information and newsletters create an account at

Source Link

Spread the love

Leave a Reply