…since “our boy,” Mei Sheng, has gone away. We’re all delighted that he’s adjusting so well to his new home, but we all miss him. So, it appears, does Su Lin. She cruises around the exhibit from time to time, pausing at the introduction gate, the door to which is now closed, sniffing and looking, peering and investigating, as if looking for her brother and “fence buddy.” And we’ve not seen the same level of romping and stomping these last two rainy days. Today she spent the morning eating and dozing in the tree through the intermittent showers; last week she did the same through a torrential downpour. Perhaps it’s just not as much fun to climb and hang in the trees without another panda to view in the neighboring area, or with rain occurring regularly, it may not have the same novelty/enrichment appeal that it did.
There have been a lot of changes to the viewing areas. Su Lin and Gao Gao are each enjoying newly revamped, renovated, and redecorated enclosures! Some of the older climbing material has been cut out, dead trees removed, and wonderful new climbing trunks and branches added: whole new environments to be explored! Our Horticulture Department takes great pride in assembling and maintaining the “Zoo furniture” in exhibits all over the San Diego Zoo and are always on the lookout for interesting pieces of tree to include in the climbing structures. Recycling is a way of life in all departments here, and the Horticulture staff have a network of friends all over San Diego who keep their eyes and ears open for large trees that are being cut down or have blow down that can be incorporated here. One of the main branches in the left-hand panda viewing area came from a tree in Mission Hills; the new triple-trunked stump is actually from Zoo grounds, the tree cut down to make way for the new Elephant Odyssey habitat! It makes for quite a change visually, and father and daughter have spent lots of careful inspection time.
And what of mother and baby? They are doing just fine. Regular Panda Cam viewers have noticed a lot of activity and, increasingly, an empty den as Bai Yun removes the cub for “panda lessons” outside the den or, as Zhen Zhen’s activity level increases, her own forays out. For those of us anxious to meet and greet our latest baby, all of this activity is a positive thing, as it prepares her for her public debut. When will that be? As I always say, keep checking the Web site for further updates.
Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.
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