Social interactions and the role of kin recognition within juveniles of a solitary species, the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Keywords: giant panda, behaviour, kin recognition, management


Kin recognition has been extensively documented in social species, but is less well studied in solitary species, especially in sub-adults. Although giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are acknowledged as solitary animals in the wild, in captive settings cubs engage in frequent bouts of affiliative behavior and evidence suggests that adults are capable of kin recognition. This project examined whether one-year old giant panda cubs displayed kin-biased behavioural interactions. Neither relatedness nor time spent with other cubs were significant predictors of the amount of time cubs engaged in social interactions. We propose alternatives to explain rates of giant panda cubs’ social engagement. Further long-term assessment should be conducted exploring the behavioural impacts of socially housing a solitary species.