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Pandas at the zoo may suffer from jet lag. Scientists’ research

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Giant pandas living in the zoo may suffer from “jet lag”, British scientists report. This happens when their internal circadian clock is disrupted.

Giant pandas, like all animals, have a circadian cycle – an internal body clock that tells them what to do at certain times of the day. It is regulated by stimuli coming from the environment.

The latest study conducted by scientists from Great Britain, published in the journal “Frontiers in Psychology”, showed that animals living in zoos may suffer from “jet lag”. This happens when the stimuli they are exposed to in captivity do not match those in their natural environment. This may affect, for example, giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca).

– Animals, including humans, have developed their own internal circadian rhythm. They synchronize it with the environment in which they live, said Kristine Gandia, the study’s lead author and a PhD student at the University of Stirling in Scotland. – When the internal clock is not synchronized with the external environment, such as light and temperature, animals experience adverse effects. In humans, this may manifest itself in jet lag (time zone syndrome) as well as metabolic problems, she added.

Animal “jet lag”

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Gandia and a team of researchers set out to understand how jet lag affects the quality of life of zoo animals. Giant pandas were selected for this experiment partly because they lead very seasonal lives. Migrations take place in spring because these animals eat a specific type of bamboo and go out in search of new shoots. Spring is also the mating season.

“Pandas are very good animals to focus on,” Gandia said. – They are very popular in zoos, and many of them have cameras installed in their enclosures, so we can see how their behavior changes at different latitudes – she added. The cameras allowed scientists to monitor the pandas’ behavior 24 hours a day.

Researchers’ observations showed that pandas living in captivity outside their latitude (they usually live between 26 and 42 degrees north latitude) turned out to be less active, which could be due to the fact that the daylight and temperature differed from those in their natural habitat. environment.

Giant pandaleungchopan/AdobeStock

Main photo source: leungchopan/AdobeStock

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