Innate predator recognition confers a survival advantage to prey animals. We investigate whether giant pandas exhibit innate predator recognition. We analyzed behavioral responses of 56 naive adult captive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), to urine from predators and non-predators and water control. Giant pandas performed more chemosensory investigation and displayed flehmen behaviors more frequently in response to predator urine compared to both non-predator urine and water control. Subjects also displayed certain defensive behaviors, as indicated by vigilance, and in certain cases, fleeing behaviors. Our results suggest that there is an innate component to predator recognition in captive giant pandas, although such recognition was only slight to moderate. These results have implications that may be applicable to the conservation and reintroduction of this endangered species.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2