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.

Su Lin (pictured) really doesn’t seem to care about the weather; she is content to sleep, eat, and play with mom no matter what. Still clinging to her tree more than mom, she continues to grow and make all of us want to see more of her awake so we can get the perfect photo moment with her. I can’t believe that she is almost on her own; mom will start to get pushy with her in just a few more months and she will be independent. It’s hard to think she is almost 18 months old. We will still have her here for at least another year, so she will still be seen and loved as she grows.

What a cute bear Su Lin is. She was playing the other day on the climbing structure when her mom started scent anointing; Su Lin sat and watched Bai Yun, then started to do just what mom was doing. It looked like Bai Yun had a tiny shadow doing the same thing. Su Lin watches, then does the same action. What is scent anointing? I’m glad you asked! It’s when the bear takes its paws and pulls chips of bark or other material off to rub the scent on their bodies. So much fun to watch Bai Yun as she pulls the scent of bark over her body. So baby bear does the same actions and enjoys smelling like pine bark.

Su Lin loves to roll in the dirt in the den. Bai will get wet, then wander over to the den and roll in the dry dirt. Su Lin will follow her and soon we have two bears rolling and enjoying the moments of just being dirty bears. We enjoy the moments as well.

What will the weather be like next week? Who knows! I do know that Bai Yun and her cub, Su Lin, will be there to greet you when you come. Remember, Su Lin sleeps many hours in her tree, so be prepared to stay awhile with us, visiting other animals and then checking back to see who’s awake for the moment.

Do we really care what the weather is? No, we are so fortunate to have these beautiful bears in our backyard. Come enjoy, relax, and see the animals.

Kay Ferguson is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.

14 Responses to “What’s Up with this Weather?”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Hmmm… I think you just came up with a new perfume line ” Panda Love” – a refreshing scent featuring pine bark and fresh dirt. Sounds lovely – doesn’t everyone want to smell like Bai and little miss fancy pants! Love those bears!!

  2. barbara says:

    Kay, so i guess it’s not only N.J. that is having this warm weather. tomorrow is going to be in the high 60’s. My own animals are going crazy with it. I have a question: do the bears in captivity lose any of their heavy coat in the changing weather or does it stay thick? If the bears ever want a vacation, i have a large vacant lot next to me and it has plenty of trees and dirt. you are so lucky to have access to these precious bears, what i wouldn’t give

  3. Margaret says:

    Thanks, Kay, for another entertaining account of Bai Yun and their fun life together. Sounds like quite a mimic you have there. That is how little bears learn what to do when they become big bears. Did Hua Mei like to anoint herself with the same scents as Bai, and did she enjoy the dirt as much as Su Lin? I love the pictures earlier this year of the ” charcoal” bears when Bai and Su were rolling in the dirt as part of their enrichment (see the blog, Su Lin’s Mud Day, dated March 6, 2006). I remember reading at the time how much they loved to get wet and then covered in dirt. Do they seem to like the scent, or does it do something for their skin like pigs and mud, and elephants and dust?

    We were all moaning from the extreme cold last week, and the bad snows in the mid-West the two weeks before that. The Northwest seems to be getting extreme snow and wind, while the rest of us are enjoying extremely warm, and sunny December days. I have to admit I like the warmer temps than the cold, but it is hard to get ready for Winter holidays in warm weather. Makes me feel like I must be ” down under” instead of North America. I wondered how the cold weather animals like pandas and polar bears liked the extreme temperature swings. They are more adapted for long term weather patterns than what we get in the continental US. Glad to hear that they adapt well. At least they don’t get colds like humans do when the temperature swings like this.

  4. Della Ferguson says:

    Awesome, Mom… You GO girl! I enjoy reading you layman’s viewpoint on these precious animals! You’ve always had a love for animals! Your love for animals has been so deep that I’ve learned to love and appreciate them with the same passion. Thanks for sharing your passion and love for God’s awesome creatures! YOU ROCK, Mom!!! I am so proud of you!

  5. barbara says:

    Kay what a beautiful daughter you have ,she sounds like a awesome young lady. to Della #4 you are right your mom is a smart caring lady who reallys love these special creatures. She brings so muchg to us who can’t be there to enjoy these wonderful bears

  6. Rosie says:

    Do female panda cubs become more independant faster than males? I notice that Su is much more aloof and distant from her Mom than is Tai. Tai seems to want more play time, follows Mei around much more, and generally is a little pest! It seems to me that Mei Sheng was more like Tai than Su is.

  7. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the great picture of Su Lin, down on the ground during daylight hours!

  8. narrator1 says:

    Rosie. I really don’t know that. Hua Mei was so much more independent than our boy Mei Sheng, but who knows? Let’s wait until the next bear is born and see if this one will be different. I think that each is different, but we shall see, Rosie, we shall see. Kay

  9. narrator1 says:

    Barb. I’m so glad you like the news I share. I look forward to your comments and want you to share your questions and, most of all, your thoughts on the wonderful bears here at the San Diego Zoo. Keep blogging, girl. I love it. Kay

  10. narrator1 says:

    Cheryl. Market that smell, girl! You know I’ll be the first to buy it! Kay

  11. C. Johnson says:

    Kay, thanks for your wonderful blog. I just love this picture of Su Lin. She looks like she’s wearing a diaper, carrying a big load behind. Since we see so little of her, it’s hard to know what she’s like; we know she’s aloft, but don’t know whether she’s aloof.

  12. Lisa Anderson says:

    C., Su Lin really does look like she is wearing diapers, good observation!

    What an adorable and intelligent young lady she is…..not to mention very beautiful as well!

  13. Virgil says:

    Kay, I never even thought about how the weather affects the animals in a zoo, but with this article I can see it is important to know what affect it has. I know the fur is thick on the pandas but ” air conditioning” provided for them. I laughed as I thought the only animals needing weather control was us humans. Thanks for the good work you do and keep us informed.

  14. karsen says:

    one of your pandas is pigeon-toed. just wanted to tell you!!