It’s the end of the year and Su Lin seems to be settling in rather nicely with her new schedule. She’s on exhibit in the mornings now, and uses the time to play and explore. By the afternoon, she is pretty worn out and spends many hours asleep in the bedroom attached to the exhibit.
I am always amazed at how quickly the panda cub changes when it is brought out into an exhibit space. The infant goes from being a quiet, docile little creature sheltering in a den to tearing up the place with amazing energy in no time flat. There is no moss growing on this stone, and Su Lin is no exception.
Her climbing technique has improved dramatically since she has been on exhibit. Having lots of logs and branches to scale has resulted in increased dexterity on her part. She seems to be ahead of the curve on this relative to her big brother, Mei Sheng.
Social play between Bai Yun and Su Lin has also picked up. We are now seeing longer, more protracted bouts of biting and swatting each other and Su Lin often climbs on her mother to get up higher for these play bouts. We record a lot of sessions now in which the cub is trying repeatedly to get momma to play, but Bai Yun is too busy eating or sleeping to join in.
Bai Yun is starting to play a little defense with regard to her bamboo. Often, Su Lin will come in close to start a play bout or perhaps try to nurse. If Bai Yun is engaged in a bamboo feeding session, she often puts out a back paw and stops Su Lin before she gets too close. She plants that paw on Su Lin’s forehead, as if to say, “That’s far enough.” All the while, Bai Yun continues to feed. She obviously has her priorities! We aren’t alarmed by this behavior from Bai Yun, as we recognize that she needs to take care of herself, too. What’s more, we saw this same behavior with both of her previous cubs.
Su Lin is beginning to spend time mouthing and playing with bamboo. She won’t actually begin to consume it reliably for a few more months, and is still dependant on momma’s milk for most of her sustenance (she does sneak a biscuit now and then!). Look for her to increase her time spent playing with bamboo from here on out, learning how to handle and manipulate the material. It takes practice to be a bamboo aficionado!
Suzanne Hall is the panda research technician for the San Diego Zoo’s Office of Giant Panda Conservation.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.