Although she was born in captivity, Bao Bao retains the curious nature of her counterparts in the wild, who at around 18 months of age typically begin branching out on their own. As a result, zoos must discourage this behavior through conditioning - a process that Born Free USA CEO Adam M. Roberts tells The Dodo is inherently incongruous with animal welfare concerns.
"Humans make a significant - and deliberate - mistake when they place wild animals in captivity for the visitors' amusement," says Roberts. "And no matter how much money is spent on these artificial exhibits, they are never foolproof and accidents will happen - with painful, if not deadly, consequences."
The zoo suggests that such little traumas are par for the course when it comes to animals learning to suppress their instincts to wander and explore. In fact, keepers described Bao Bao's reaction to the electrified fence as "predictable," explaining that she's "still learning the boundaries of her habitat."
(Facebook/Smithsonian's National Zoo)