Archive for 2006

Su Lin’s Training Begins

Posted at 10:59 am December 26, 2006 by Panda Team

Over the last several months, the keepers here at the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo have noticed some significant changes with our young Su Lin. Primarily, she doesn’t seem so young and small anymore! During her first year of life, Su Lin spent the majority of her time resting the days away in one of her favorite trees. Now, she still does enjoy many long naps in the branches, but she has also gained quite a bit more curiosity as to what is happening down on the ground. Most mornings she is now down and waiting for keepers right alongside mom. She will also venture down several more times throughout the day and spend more time investigating things.

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How Fast Does an Elephant Grow?

Posted at 1:25 pm December 22, 2006 by Fred Bercovitch

 Khosi nursingBaby Khosi nearly doubled her weight in her first three months of life (see previous blog, How Do You Weigh an Elephant?)! To put this in perspective, the average human baby also doubles in birth weight in about the same amount of time. The difference, of course, is that Khosi now weighs more than twice as much as football player LaDainian Tomlinson!

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Condor Colors

Posted at 10:01 am December 22, 2006 by Suzanne Hall

 juvenile California condorThe four fledgling California condors at the Wild Animal Park’s condor release pen facility are all similar in appearance. They are large birds with a thick fringe of dark plumage that grows high up on their dark-skinned necks. The characteristic white wing lining, on the underside of the wing, is muted and appears nearly gray on these young birds. The fledges do not have the bold pink and yellow head so easily seen on adult birds; instead, their heads are a dark gray to black color. Both the white wing lining and the pink head will develop as the birds mature. (A juvenile condor is pictured above.)

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Why Am I Black and White?

Posted at 10:33 am December 21, 2006 by Kay Ferguson

 Bai Yun with puzzle feederI’m asked this question many times a day by our guests at the San Diego Zoo. Researchers aren’t really sure why giant pandas are black and white, but it certainly enhances their beauty, and you can’t beat that smile they always seem to have. I love their smiles but I must remember I don’t know a good bear day from a bad one and with that smile it is hard to determine just what they are thinking!

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Saturday Morning Artists, part 2

Posted at 3:03 pm December 20, 2006 by Cindy Spiva-Evans

The Children’s Rainforest Art Explorer program is hosted jointly by the Zoo and the SUCCESS Optimist Club and consists primarily of pediatric oncology patients and their families from Kaiser Permanente San Diego. Read Cindy’s previous blog, Saturday Morning Artists.

 hyacinth macawIt was CHILLY last Saturday””did anyone notice? Rain was in the forecast and we had to decide what to do. Inside! We’ll start inside! With Sammy””he’s spectacular and the kids will love him! And off we went!

The usual suspects turned up early, but rather than venture right into the Zoo, we made our way into the Otto Center for hot chocolate, hot coffee, and some fabulous time spent drawing and feeding walnuts to Sammy, a hyacinth macaw and Children’s Zoo resident. Joe Nyiri, their art instructor, encourages the kids to completely finish their work, adding in backgrounds and details, and reminds them to sign their work. Once finished, the portraits are photographed for the Children’s Rainforest Art Explorer Web site, to be turned into mosaics and stained-glass window designs for Kaiser Permanente’s Zion Road hospital, as well as mugs, tiles, and holiday cards. Some of the children are even uploading art they’ve been doing from home””or the hospital. And it’s spectacular!

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A Sun Bear Boy!

Posted at 2:08 pm December 19, 2006 by Suzanne Hall

Keepers in Sun Bear Forest at the San Diego Zoo have finally had the opportunity to handle the sun bear cub, now 86 days old (see Suzanne’s previous blog, Sun Bears from Sepilok). I am happy to report that they have determined that the cub is a male and appears very healthy. Today the cub was pulled for the third time and weighed in at 11.5 pounds (5.24 kilograms), demonstrating a robust increase from its weight last week of 11 pounds (5.02 kilograms). Staff reported that the coat is clean, the body feels solid, and there appears to be the beginning of the fleshy jowls common to sun bears.

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” Enrichment” at Lion Camp!

Posted at 3:08 pm December 18, 2006 by Marcia Redding

 Izu and cubAs many of you know, we take our enrichment program seriously at the Wild Animal Park. Providing lots of toys, scents, and other interesting diversions helps to keep the animal’s minds and bodies healthy and happy. A few days ago, some ” unscheduled” enrichment took place.

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Good Benefits

Posted at 10:39 am December 15, 2006 by Kay Ferguson

 Mei Sheng enjoys the snowHave you ever wondered how hard it is for a giant panda to survive in the wild? How hard it must be to cut down your bamboo from the forest, then sit and eat 12 to 14 hours a day just to survive?

Male pandas take large areas and females a little less, seldom leaving their territory, working daily eating bamboo. In a closed, protected environment they truly do not have to work at survival. While living at the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo, the pandas have good benefits: climate-controlled bedrooms, a gardener to cut the bamboo, keepers, vets, and much more.

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What’s Up with this Weather?

Posted at 10:06 am December 13, 2006 by Kay Ferguson

 Su Lin standingI have lived in San Diego for years and thought I knew what time of year the weather was about to change. Well, this year I don’t have a clue as to what season we are in. One week we are having a cold snap, then the next time you listen to the news we are having a heat wave!

I have to think about how the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo feel with these changes. I wear layers, just in case the weather changes. How do the pandas do in this weather swing? Believe it or not, they do well. The keepers at the Zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station closely watch the temperature and will change what they need when the time comes to do that. Did you know the pandas have air conditioned bedrooms? That coat is just so thick, so cold air is a good thing for them.

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Clutches, Cohorts, and Condors

Posted at 12:17 pm December 11, 2006 by Suzanne Hall

 Condor chick fed by puppetOur California condor behavior study aims to follow a cohort of young captive birds to assess their temperament and deduce any clues that might help us predict their likelihood of success in the wild (see Suzanne’s previous blog, Comments on Condors). There are four fledglings in the cohort, all of which were hatched in March or April of this year. These birds are all puppet-reared, which means they were removed as eggs from their parental nest.

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