Rainy Days Just Aren't the Same…

Posted at 3:58 pm December 7, 2007 by Ellie Rosenbaum

…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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90 Responses to “Rainy Days Just Aren't the Same…”

  1. Rachel in NY says:

    Will Su Lin be allowed to ‘visit’ with her parents? I hope she is still here when her little sister is ready to ‘hang around’ with other pandas!

  2. Sammi in UK says:

    Bless Su Lin it certainly seems as if she does miss her brother Mei Sheng. She had got used to her special times at the howdy gate with her brother. She must be wondering what has happened to him as obviously his smell must be fading fast or actually gone by now.

    Also as you have said at rainy times they used to have fun although not in the same exhibit but they each were aware that the other one was there. Mei Sheng must be missing his sister aswell. Just because they are animals it doesn’t mean they have any less feelings than us humans do.

    If only there was a way to explain so that they could understand what was going on. I know that they sense things happening but it’s not the same as being able to tell them.

    I would love to be able to know what Mei Sheng and Su Lin have thought of all the changes? Just wish there was a way we could. Make life easier when they are not well for them to be able to say how they feel and where it hurts. It would have made things easy these past few weeks when our cat Paws was ill he could have told us about his tummy hurting not us having to guess he wasn’t feeling well. The vet would’ve been able to treat him sooner.

  3. Peggy says:

    Poor Su Lin, I’m sure she does miss her brother. It will be some time before Zhen Zhen is ready to face her sister but what would happen if they were in the same exhibit? I mean two young females could get along couldn’t they? We see the Chinese have their panda cubs together and that they play together but of course they have more than just the one at a time. Would Su Lin be territorial? Perhaps with this cub we can see the teenager so to speak and the baby meet earlier and more can be learned about panda behavior with each other.

    I saw the most recent video and it is just adorable. Zhen Zhen is walking so good and she seems to have developed a sense of humor and fun with the staff. She isn’t crying and wanting back to her den but appears to want to play. Most of the time when I look at the panda cam she is sleeping. I guess it takes a lot of energy just moving on all fours but she is doing it very well.

    Maybe those rainy day antics will be back when Zhen Zhen is able to climb the trees and meets her sister.

  4. Susan Harrison says:

    Poor Su Lin! She’s probably wondering what happened to her howdy gate buddy and big brother! I wonder if studying panda psychology is in the zoo’s panda research program. It would really be interesting to learn about their psyche and their emotions! Moderator, can you possibly shed some lights into this question? Thanks.

    We all miss Mei Sheng too! πŸ™

    Lucky China! They gained such a special boy!

  5. Bobbie Wood says:

    Dear Ellie,

    No, it’s not the same. My Goodness, one thing is the ‘same’ though. I am in tears every time I open the Panda site. If I am not laughing until tears flow at the antics of Zhen as she plays, rolls, zips and zooms with bamboo in her mouth and paws, I am teary-eyed reading the articles and the responses. I am so grateful for all-those-tears πŸ™‚ Su does miss her pal Mei Sheng. Gao Loves being in his new area and I crack up with laughter as I watch him chowing or napping for hours! Those ‘Gao Moments’, you have to admit, ARE the same πŸ™‚ I do think the new additions to the panda areas are very nice! If I could have my backyard re-done to resemble the panda grounds, I would be thrilled πŸ™‚ To All at the SDZ, I say Thank You!

    You have given all of us an opportunity of a lifetime that we receive EVERY day!


    Bobbie Wood

  6. Maureen in Michigan says:

    As some claim pandas don’t have emotions….explain why it’s obvious SuLin misses her ” howdy gate” friend, Sheng. If she’s not romping in the rain something is bothering her. Hope she’s getting extra attention from her keepers. And if Su misses Sheng he surely misses her also. Let’s hope with his new home & caring keeper he is kept occupied.

    What is it about rain or snow that pandas love?? Read the update on the NZ site about how Mei Xiang & Tian had several play bouts & Tia went wild pouncing around in the snow there.

    I have also seen Miss Z sitting up acting like Mommy eating bamboo -one of my favorite pictures is Tia at maybe 4-5 months old sitting next to Mei on their rock structure eating (??) bamboo. Tai was trying so hard to imitate mommy

  7. Karen in Pasadena says:

    Oh poor Su Lin… that it TOO sad. πŸ™ I’m glad she has some to furniture to explore.

  8. Joy :) says:

    Thanks Ellie, especially for updating us on Su Lin and Gao Gao. With so many stories of Sheng and Zhen, they don’t get as much ” press time” as the other members of the family. I am glad to hear that while Su Lin might be missing big bro, she has new trees and areas to investigate.

    Can you imagine rain being a boring occurence??? Esp. when I remember the previous blog you did about rain… She might as well live here in NJ! :>)

    I had a question about pandas and sustainable resources and it might fit into this blog.

    Bamboo materials are being used to make all kinds of ” green” building supplies. It is considered better for the environment to use bamboo rather than wood lumber. Does that affect the wild pandas or the pandas in China Reserves? Is there any impact on their food supply with bamboo being considered a better option for things like flooring, furniture, etc…???

    I was just wondering.

    If anyone has insights I’d love to hear them. Thanks.

    And, thanks to Ellie for all your dedication to the pandas.

    Love, Joy πŸ™‚

  9. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Here it is 1am EST in Mich & I’m laughing as our Precious Miss Z is fighting with Bai. Bai thinks it bed time for the little one who keeps escaping from mom, runs around behind Bai & starts playing again. Too cute.

  10. Barbara in Midwest says:

    #8 – Joy, regarding the bamboo, I remember reading somewhere, perhaps in these blogs, that the kind of bamboo used in furniture & flooring is not the same kind that animals eat. It seems there are many, many kinds of bamboo. I remember feeling relieved when I read that.

    Little Zhen is growing so fast! I’m afraid it won’t be long until she’s up in the trees and we can’t see her. Well, I guess that won’t happen until spring. And let’s all hope she doesn’t get as ” remote” as sister Su did.

  11. Candy in Iowa says:

    It’s too bad Su Lin seems a little lost. I always wished that she and Mei Sheng could play together but 2 yrs. difference in size and weight may have been a bit risky.

    Just when you think the last pictures and videos are the cutest EVER, they put out another and the newest one shatters the last cutest meter reading!!!

    What a PRECIOUS creature she is!!! Love you, Zhen!

  12. Carrie says:

    Aww poor Su Lin! I hope she will be introduced to her father through the howdy door. She seems lonesome.

  13. linda says:

    Dear Ellie,

    I have heard some things about bamboo building materials on DIY. Bamboo is farmed

    in some parts of the world.It seems that some kinds of bamboo grow very fast and it

    is considered extremely strong. It also grows straight and it is used for scaffolding in

    Indonesia when they build highrise buildings! Teakwood is also being farmed.

    I have also wondered about the bamboo the pandas eat in China. I know that it dies off

    every 100 years or so. Can’t they plant different kinds so it doesn’t all die at once?

    Thats all I know. I hope someone else can answer the other things we wonder about.

    To the great people at the SDZ, thank you for all you do for ALL the animals.

    Merry Christmas,

    Linda in Westminster, Ca

  14. Enterprize says:

    Nasty question time, so I’ll get straight to my point. We know Mei Sheng’s return to China was delayed by many factors. So when is Su Lin due to return? I assume we wont have the pleasure of her as long as we had Mei Sheng?

    I am in the UK but was lucky enough to visit Easter this year and managed to see all 4 of the pandas. I hope Zhen is in San Diego long enough for me to get to see her too!

    My daughter wants to save up to go and visit Mei Sheng in China, by the time we get there he will probably have created his own family!

  15. TAMI MICHAUD says:

    I did it againÒ€¦.I have started my day checking on the pandas and i read the story on Su LinÒ€¦now I’ll be depressed all day knowing she misses her brother and is a little sadÒ€¦.these are the thoughts that will be racing through my heart and mind as I try to concentrate on my workÒ€¦.it makes me very sad and I, too have tears of sadness that our little girl is sadÒ€¦.Ò€I love you Su LinÒ€

  16. Swayze from Arkansas says:

    I have been watching su lin now for the last 15 min almost. the time on the clock reads 12:07 and she has been moving around non stop for the last 15 minutes. today is the 9th by the way so if any one else got to see this you know what i mean. She couldn’t sit still. my dogs at home do this when they have been inside for to long thye just get up and walk around like they are looking for something. in the end they lay down and take a nap and i am expecting that to happen with su lin but she is still just moving around. i always thought panda’s were lazy and slept most of the day but here we are going on 20 minutes as i type.

    She keeps walking back to the small fense over in the corner where i remember some time ago i would see her and another panda only seperated by that wire gate. I’m not sure what she is looking for, most likely her brother. or perhaps her dad, she may even smell the new baby some how. i’m not sure because i don’t know the lay out of all of the rooms for the pandas. but she seems to just be waiting for someone to show up and talk to her in that gate. I think she is lonely the poor thing.

    if she only knew how many people watch her all day long through a tiny little camera.

  17. Margot says:

    Around noon San Diego time today, Su Lin looked like the energizer panda. As Ellie mentioned, she ran to the howdy gate and put her paws up. Not finding her big brother, she raced to the opposite end of the exhibit. Along the way, Su climbed everything she could, as fast as she could. One time she climbed high into the big tree, went out to the slender end of a branch, and tried to get onto another tree stump. She didn’t succeed, but she also didn’t come crashing down, thank goodness, because the branch looked none too sturdy. She kept this circuit up for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Su move that quickly for such a long period of time. She really was Zoom Zoom today.

  18. Margaret says:

    Many thanks to the bloggers who told us about Animal Planet show ” Growing Up” about panda JingJing at Chengdu. It was great to see the first year life of a cub, and the cooperation between Chengdu and Wolong. It was fantastic to see Jay Pratt from ZA in action training a year old panda cub with serious aggressive behavior problems. Jay is great in action. It was also good to see ZA’s Dr Snyder researching the behavior between mothers and cubs, and if separating them at 6 months has anything to do with the lower breeding rate of those cubs as they reach breeding age. Hua Mei is giving them a good animal to follow who was allowed to be with her mother longer, like she would in the wild. One of the things Dr. Snyder mentioned they have observed is that cubs allowed to stay with their mothers longer are more active than pandas that are separated at 6 months. Jing Jing was the only panda cub born at Chengdu in the breeding season (2006?). The other females that bred were either too old (18-20) or too young (3-4 years old). and did not have successful pregnancies. Therefore Jing Jing didn’t have any other cubs to ” play” with her, but, she had plenty of human playmates. It was interesting to see how they do twice a day vet checks and weighings of the newborn cub. It is amazing how much trust the mother (Ya Ya) had in her keepers to allow them to take her neonate away from her, even on the cub’s first day. They did the vet check in a special temp and humidity controlled incubator. I can’t imagine any of the mothers at US zoos allowing their keepers to remove their newborn cubs from them for even a minute. Unlike when the dams at US zoos wait at least a week before leaving their cubs to get their first drink and food, Ya Ya was fed food and traditional Chinese medicine every day by her keepers, allowing them to get close enough to monitor her health and and that of Jing Jing. It was also funny to see a human trying to ” teach” a cub to climb versus watching pro-mom Bai Yun with her cubs. Once Jing Jing got up in the tree she wouldn’t come down, so they had to climb up and ” rescue” her. Can’t you picture one of the keepers trying to climb up a tree after Su Lin? It would have been a hopeless pursuit. She came down when she was good an ready.

    It is always interesting to see how the different conservation facilities manage their pandas, and to compare what Chinese facilities each do, compared with their counterparts in the US.

    Glad to hear Mei Sheng is adjusting well to his new home. I hope that Su Lin soon adjusts to being ” alone” again. Her reaction to his absence is an opportunity for research, but is also what keepers hinted they were concerned about when they first proposed Mei and Su being introduced to each other. I recall in early blogs on the subject that they didn’t want to allow a relationship to get started that would soon have to end. The relationship the two of them developed in the trees was completely natural, and similar to what they might have done in similar circumstances in the wild. The closeness of their interactions at the Howdy Gate however sound like they were closer in overlapping ranges they they would likely have encountered in the wild.

  19. Maureen in Michigan says:

    I just watched ” Growing up Panda” on the Animal Planet channel. A very intersting look into the Chengdu panda research station. They do so many things differently there – the panda cub is taken right after birth for an exam, then is examined twice a day for several weeks. I also noticed they allow visitors to look right into the birthing den (which seemed much larger than any in the US) where mommy is taking excellent care of her cub. There is a lot of hands on with the one of the staff (who is a vet) and the baby cub. They start weaning the cub at 4 months and bottle feeding her. I found the differences between the US zoos & Chengdu too many to mention. Sadly it seemed like they want the females to mate every year rather than letting nature take its course as it does with mothers & their cubs in the wild.

    There was segment with ZA’s former panda keeper, Jay Pratte, who there for research & volunteered to train a rambunctious older cub.

    To see all the youngster romping & playing was fun. And it’s obvious the staff there is dedicated to the survival of pandas. Check your TV listings as I’m sure this program will be on again & is well worth watching.

  20. Bruce in KC says:

    One of my friends on another panda blog found some clips on YouTube of Hua Mei that were recorded from CCTV. This program is posted in two clips. One of the clips shows the birth of her cubs!! These recordings are in Chinese, but it’s easy to tell how much the Chinese love Hua Mei. To find these clips search for KC10412, and then look for pictures of Hua Mei.

  21. AC in NYC says:

    My poor baby Su, I am sad and in tears too. Thanks to the Horticulture Department, I hope Su gets very busy with her new furnitures.

  22. Rose N. says:

    Bruce #20 Thanks for sharing the information about Hua Mei on YouTube. The footage speaks for itself – no translation is necessary. The video of the birth of the twins was amazing.

    One of the things that impressed me was the fact that Hua Mei had complete faith in her keepers during the time that they had to express milk from her breast.

    Hua Mei has a special place in my heart. πŸ™‚ She has made the San Deigo Zoo very proud many times over.

  23. Candy Coleman says:

    I realize this isn’t related to this particular blog, but most of my friends here love to hear any news from my friend in China regarding Shi Shi. I received this letter regarding Shi Shi today:

    Dear Candy,

    I am very busy as usual during these days. I haven’t hadtime to contact you. It “s hard for me to imagine such long holidays like yours. I will surely remember that the thing I said , and inform great Giant Panda fans like you when Shi Shi has any unusual situation. With the love of Guangzhou Zoo keepers, Shi Shi is living his life as usual. The winter in Guangzhou is not so cold, his fat make him survive even at a place with ice and snow.

    I think in U.S., most people are fond of pets, such as cats. But in China, pet cats are relatively expensive, few citizens raise cats, especially those rare cat and dog species.

    Last time I told you that I will tell you a secret, I am deeply sorry for that. I will keep the secret and tell you later, I guess within a month, I will give you a surprise.

    This afternoon , I visited Shi Shi, and took some photos for him, I hope you like it .

    I wish you live a happy life . also wish those Panda lovers cherish their lives happily. Thank you very much for your care for Pandas.


    Wang Jing


    I haven’t been able to pull up the pics yet, but will put them online when I figure it out.

  24. Lainie says:

    Awwwwww…… even more of a tear jerker !!! =(

  25. P Wong says:

    #22-Rose N.

    Regarding the footage you saw, the narrator said the keepers found Hua Mei hunched over and could not feed her baby. When the twins were born, the keepers took one and let her retain the other. However, she held her baby too tightly and the baby did not feed. When she was engorged and hunched over, her baby was dehydrated and nearly lifeless. The keepers intervened by taking the baby. Then treated Hua Mei’s engorgement condition and expressed the milk. The babies were her first set of twins, Hua Ling and Mei Ling. Then after they showed her films of how panda mothers fed their babies, and when she was well enough, she resumed feeding her twins (one at a time) as the keepers switch them every few days for her.

  26. Margot says:

    Thank you, Bruce #20, for the info about the Hua Mei videos. They are wonderful! It was great to see film of little Hua Mei during one of her SDZ exams, the birth of her first twins, and the trust she placed in her Chinese keepers. I’m so glad you let us know about these.

  27. Joy :) says:

    Wow, there’s been so many interesting things here the past few days.

    Barbara #10, Thanks for reminding me of the many varieties of bamboo. I do feel better knowing that we are not taking from our precious panda food supply.

    I just recently bought towels made out of bamboo fibers. I thought it sounded funny at first, but they are SOOOOOOOOO soft!!! I feel like a big panda being wrapped up in my bamboo ” bed” after a rain shower. πŸ™‚

    Linda #13, Bamboo is such a strong material. It is amazing the same thing we use for highrise building scaffolding is what the pandas are eating. I remeber learning that the giant panda has one huge muscle that goes from left jaw to right jaw, right over the top of their head. That way they can crunch into the hard bamboo. Also, it is why their ears ” wiggle” in that adorable way as they eat. I think they look so cute when they eat because of that muscle. Just imagine, if they ate mush, they wouldn’t have the ear movement when eating. I’d miss it if it weren’t there!

    Swayze #16 and Margot #17– I was at the Zoo this summer when Bai Yun was having the ultrasounds and scientists were there from other Zoos to ” help” when we weren’t sure if she was pregnant or not. Su Lin could hear the noise from the back/off exhibit areas and she was running around much like you described. It took hours for her to settle down. So, maybe she is hearing things from Bai and Zhen. At the time I thought it was nice for the visitors to see her active, but I was concerned about her anxiety level. But, thankfully she was OK.

    I also saw the Animal Planet show ” Growing Up Giant Panda” and loved it! Margaret #18 and Maureen #19, you both did a great job summarizing the program. It is interesting the different approaches to panda care and raising, I guess it’s like the differences in child care. Some of it seemed strange to me and I had to keep telling my friend watching it with me about the MANY differences with raising pandas in US Zoos. What I got out of it was seeing some of the enclosures for the pandas in relation to the visitors. Hopefully, someday I will see it personally first-hand. It definitely is a great program to watch, check your listings.

    Thanks all for many interesting tid-bits,

    Love, Joy πŸ™‚

  28. barbara says:

    Thank you Candy for the update on ShiShi. It is great to hear that the honorable elder panda is doing as well as expected for his age. It is a testament to how well the keepers take care of him at this time in his life. Please thank Wang Jing for his time in sending these pictures and information. Many more years old gentleman.

  29. Stella says:

    Hello Wang Jing! Please let us all know where you will be posting the pics of the wonderful ShiShi. My family have just discovered him and would love know more about him. It will be wonderful to see photos of him.

    We also love watching Su Lin and hope she feels better soon. It was so precious to see her and her older brother together. Will her daddy Gao Gao be allowed to visit with her at the gate? What a wonderful sight it is to see all these pandas. Please, any info would be appreciated by us.

  30. Rita says:

    Zhen Zhen is outside in the C29 area climbing on a log (Tuesday a.m.)! It won’t be long till she is on display. Can’t wait.

  31. Loriann says:

    What a treat this morning to see ” Zoom Zoom” and Bai Yun on C29 at breakfast time for them. Even from a distance, Miss Zhen Zhen looks pretty big!

    I have do disagree with the statement someone made that Pandas don’t have emotions. What about the Panda who accidentally rolled onto her cub? She was inconsolable for a period of time.. I believe in watching various species- that feelings and emotions are indeed present. Look at the way Elephants protect their calves- the way the Lions and Tigers protect their young- the list goes on. It’s obvious that Su Lin is aware something or another panda is not readily available and that she ” misses” that familiarity. Perhaps she will meet Daddy Gao and Bai Yun at some point through the howdy gate. I have to admit to feeling a little sad when I see Tai in DC by himself, but his parents are playing. Keeping Bai Yun and Gao Gao separated doesn’t seem to have affected their affinity for one another!

  32. Rose N. says:

    #25 – P. Wong

    Thank you for explaining in detail exactly what was going on in the video. I now know that translation is very necessary. I also appreciate all the background information. I will watch the videos again with a totally different outlook.

    I need to take a crash course in Chinese. πŸ™‚

    Regards, Rose

  33. Margot says:

    #25–P Wong–Thank you for the background information on the Hua Mei videos. I had no idea she had had so much trouble with her first set of twins. But I assume they are perfectly healthy three year olds now. I wonder how often panda mothers get engorged and are unable to nurse without help.

    #27–Joy–Thanks for describing your experience seeing Su Lin race around the exhibit. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of anxiety. Hope that wasn’t the case the other day, but it seemed really different behavior for the laid-back Su.

  34. Miranda says:

    I just do not understand why the San Diego Zoo does not allow their pandas to be together like the National Zoo in D.C. does. Their pandas I think are much happier and certainly a heck of a lot more fun to watch on their panda cams. Since the zoo monitors the pandas and know with fairly accurate certainy when the female comes into season, it would safe to allow sisters/brothers to play together for most of the year since there’s only a couple days per year when a female can or wants to mate. Keeping them separate in your zoo seems unfair to the animals and certainly not as much fun to watch.

    Moderator’s note: Adult giant pandas are solitary by nature. Scientists have documented that males and females in the wild are solitary animals and come together for only 2-3 days out of the year for breeding. The only exception to this are females who have youngsters. The giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo are here on a scientific loan. The goal of our scientists is to observe natural communications behavior. In order to do this we have replicated a natural giant panda social structure and allowed our pandas to move into separate areas.

  35. Bruce in KC says:

    Thank you #25 P. Wong for the explanation! Even though I’ve been to China twice, I still cannot understand the language enough to make heads or tails out of what was said in the video. The great care, love, and attention that Hua Mei recieves from the staff at Wolong should ease some of the concerns that many people have about how well Mei Sheng will adapt to his new environment. Once Mei Sheng gets settled in I’m confident that he will be a very happy bear πŸ™‚

    Bruce in KC

  36. barbara says:

    I would like to Thank all of you for your donations to the wish list, it’s really looking good and all of you are such special people with big hearts and i’m sure all our animal friends are going to enjoy the holidays thanks to all of you. please remember any amount helps, larger or small it comes from your heart. The animals thank you too. I wish you PEACE, JOY, and LOVE this holiday season.

  37. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    I’m curious – like so many of my fellow pandaholics, ZZ is my first cub. Once she and Bai move out of the den and the denning phase is truly over, does it have any purpose and it is not available to them any longer? Was just wondering if ZZ continues to return to it as a ” safe” zone…

    Thank you once again for all the info that you share as well as all the insight you give us into these wonderful, precious gifts!! It does bring pleasure to an otherwise mundane day!!! I wish everyone – SDZ staff and pandaholics everywhere – a Blessed holiday season and health, happiness and peace in 2008.

  38. Margaret says:

    P Wong #25, thanks for the explanation of the video about Hua Mei’s condition. Since one of those cubs was selected to be part of the pair to be ” given” to Taiwan (which they have not yet accepted) they must both have thrived once Hua Mei’s condition improved. I find it very interesting that Hua Mei has been educated at least twice by use of videos of other pandas. First they showed her pandas having sex, so she would know what to do, then they showed her videos of dams nursing neonates, and she knew what to do. What a smart panda mom SDZ raised! After all, she is the firstborn of supermom Bai Yun! What better example of mothering could she possibly have received.

    The care she has received, and the bond she has developed with the Wolong keepers is a testiment to how valued she and Mei Sheng are by the Chinese. Sheng will receive equally great care, as evidenced by Scott staying in quarantine with him to build that great bond and trusting relationship he will need in the future. It still amazes me that Chinese keepers get in close physical contact with most of the pandas, whereas in the US they are all still at arms length. Maybe it has something to do with the Chinese language connection between them???

    Great job one and all!

  39. Louise says:

    It’s 1:34 Pacific Time and am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? Bai Yun and Zhen Zhen outside? There are branches and leaves…is this the ‘garden room’ or an actual outdoor area? (Camera 29)? Whatever it is, it’s different! How exciting!

  40. Margaret says:

    For those of us who didn’t see it in person, but saw it fly by on time-lapse, did Zhen walk outside to the classroom area on her own, or has Bai Yun been taking her there? I have seen quick glimpses of her out there several days in the past week. However, today seemed to be the longest. I haven’t been watching panda cam when Bai Yun returns to the den and removes Zhen to go into another area. So, I am not sure what she is doing with respect to exposing Zhen to new places outside. They seem to spend at least part of the night outside lately, since when I look on the cam at around 8-9 PM PST they are not in the den.

    It looks like Zhen will be very mobile outside with much better traction under her paws. With that done, and Bai comfortable with her being there, it appears that her public debut, at least in the classroom area, is on the horizon. What a great holiday present for her adoring fans, and especially those who are in SD for the holidays.

  41. P Wong says:

    #34 Bruce in KC-

    Don’t feel so bad. The narrator spoke Cantonese dialect instead of Mandarin. The footage was a Hong Kong made documentary.

    Another interesting detail in footage regarding cubs raised by keeper intervention… In order to stimulate the cubs’ appetite for milk, the keepers stroke the genitals with a cotton swab. This simulates the panda mother’s licking action that precedes nursing.

  42. Diana S. says:

    Thank you Candy for the update on Shi Shi. How great to have a friend in China who gets to see Shi Shi. He sounds so very well cared for.

    And thank you too P. Wong for the translation!!

  43. Frances in NY says:

    Thanks, everyone for the explanations about the Hua Mei videos. I do hope that her denning space is more comfortable for her than it looks–which is kind of like a jail, with all the bars. I guess I’ve gotten used to seeing Bai Yun having more privacy and more freedom of movement.

    Su Lin really has been racing around–I’m sure she misses her playpal. Will she and ZZ be able to meet at the howdy gate or see each other in the trees?

    Eagerly awaiting the next video and pix from her next exam. Every time you think you’ve seen her at her cutest, she does something even cuter.

  44. Rita says:

    Cute play session between Zhen Zhen and Bai around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday. Zhen was attacking Bai’s face and Bai was encouraging her.

  45. Chari Mercier says:

    Well, the playtime has begun! Just got off the pandacam after watching Bai and Zhen having their little wrestling match for about ten minutes or so. Zhen was having some fun playing with her mom’s head, and Bai was letting her baby girl have her fun! Zhen definitely knows her surroundings, knows who her mom is, and has decided that she is strong enough to start playing with her mom despite her small size. Let the fun begin!! πŸ™‚

    Gonna go back on the pandacam and watch some more of this great playtime between Bai and Zhen!

    Chari Mercier πŸ™‚

    St. Pete, FL

  46. Shari says:

    I was wondering if there has been enough data to determine the long term effects of peer raised cubs (the Chinese cubs weened from their mothers at 6 months and put in nursery groups with other cubs) versus cubs who have been with their mothers 18 months. I know that this is being studied, but don’t know if there have been any results yet. Thanks!

  47. francie bowers says:

    Hi fellow bloggers, I just wondered if anybody noticed the new ” howdy” opening at NZ? There was some fabulous interaction today with Tai and (I think) Mei. He was as charming as could be! I missed the construction of this I guess, it just appeared! Holiday greetings to all the meerkats, keepers and custodians of the future at SDZ…and panda lovers everywhere!

  48. Rita Yokoyama says:

    I wish that C29 was more focused and we could have a better shot of Bai and ZZ. I feel like I’m observing from an airplane. Thanks.

    Rita Y

  49. Margaret says:

    #46 Francie, NZ has an open mesh area all the time. The pandas can go there whenever they want to. Tai and Tian, and Tai and Mei, sometimes go take a peak at each other when they are coming on or off exhibit. They can also see and smell each other when they are in the mesh shutes on their way from place to place. They sometimes stop and have a quick conversation. Some bloggers noted in previous blogs that Tai has been communicating more with Tian and Mei recently and that Mei even pushed Tian out of the way so she could get face to face with their boy. Unlike the howdy gate at SDZ, the NZ screen is about 12 inches off the ground so the pandas are normally standing upright, or sitting, when they look through it.

    I am surprised if you saw another gate, because when I was there a month ago there was no construction going on in the panda yards, and the regular mesh screen was open. Actually there are several open areas between the exhibits through which the pandas can see each other if they choose to look that way. Look for a large circle that looks like a large window. It is clear, plexiglass I think, and you can see through it from each of the older exhibits. The newest exhibit that opened last year has a special mesh greeting area near the door between the exhibits up by the Panda Building. It is adjacent to the area where the pandas enter from the indoor exhibits and wheren they go from the smaller yard to the new huge one. You can often spot Tian looking through it, especially when he and Mei are not in the same yard.

  50. Laine says:

    I was just wondering if the SDZ panda team has done any research on this new panda parasite. I would imagine that it doesn’t pose a threat to pandas outside China, but it seems to be a problem in Wolong and Chengdu.

  51. francie bowers says:

    Thanks Margaret #48, I know about the smaller square ” howdies” but this big round thing with mesh was new to me! It was so large that they had room to see all of each other and really interact…don’t know how I missed this, guess I just hop around between the cams too much! I seem to be on an opposite schedule, when I get on everyone is sleeping! Guess I need to get insomnia…every time I check Wolong it is night too! Thanks also to the bloggers for the notice on Animal Planet ” growing up panda” , it was wonderful, just amazing how close their contact is with the pandas, and with adults to boot…and it was nice to see Jay somewhere besides on Youtube. My sound card is broken so I can’t get the music with LCNessie’s videos, guess I will get that for Xmas! Peace to everyone is the coming season!

  52. Maureen in Michigan says:

    #36 Lynda -If memory serves me, Tai (NZ) would play in the den for quite a while after he was on exhibit. There was ledge there that MeiXiang slept on & once Tai learned how to climb he loved climbing on & off it

    #37 Margaret – while China has a much more hands approach with their pandas, there are several videos on youtube of ” Brian” playing with Tai. I seem to recall the NZ commenting one time that when keepers were with the pandas they were not on the cam.

    And if pandas love snow they should come here to Michigan – we have about 18 inches of the white fluffy stuff they roll around in.

  53. Deb says:

    Will the Robopanda clean my house? Where is the Robomaid?

    I noticed on the Chengdu Research Base web site under the ” pandas abroad” section Mei Sheng is listed as Gao Sheng and Su Lin as Su Ling. Are these typos or is the spelling different in China?

  54. KK West says:

    I’m loving this site and all of the blogs. Learning a lot and loving these beautiful creatures even more.

    For those of you who have followed Mei Lan (AZ) since here birth, search youtube for ” Yang Yang – Big Guys Can Have Fun Too!” — I hope Mei Lan gets some of her Dad’s personality. I read Yang’s favorite scent is tabasco….gotta wonder what’s on that ” jug!”


  55. Maureen in Michigan says:

    LC Nessie has some wonderful videos of Bai & Miss Z on youtube-just type in Bai Yun and her cub – enjoy

  56. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Hey fellow pandaholics! If you do a search for ” panda fan club” , and scroll down on the site just a bit, there is a blogger who has photos of Mei Sheng coming out of quarantine and another link of him in his new enclosure! It’s so good to see our boy settling in! Just thought I’d share! Happy panda watching today! πŸ™‚

  57. Margaret says:

    Kathi, #56, thanks for the update. I looked up Mei Sheng Wolong yesterday hoping to hear about him coming our of quarantine, but didn’t see anything. I will now follow your advice and see our boy in his new home.

  58. Darlene says:

    #56 Kathi, Thankyou for the info on Panda Fan club and Mei’s new digs… He seems to be a busy boy sniffing about… How nice to see him, he looks wonderful. Seems to have gotten lots of attention on the move out of quarantine.. Wonder if he will get to play with other Panda’s, or if they will be cautious with him at first? Oh, and there is the matter of a ” lady” friend for him, and more trees to climb, and hopefully soon snow!!!! I have a foot in my back yard, would gladly send him some to romp in.. ha ha ha

    The pic’s did set my mind at ease a bit, like I’ve said before it’s like sending your child off to College and worrying until you know they are settled in….

    Thankyou again for sharing the info… I know everyone here is going to be checking the pic’s…..

  59. Kris says:

    Wow! Thanks to all the bloggers who post info on where to see stuff on the all the panda’s, particularily Mei Sheng (Kathy #56). It is great to see him. In the 1st photo, he looks like he is giving someone a high 5! He looks good and seems to be enjoying exploring his new environment. I just wish the captions, etc. were in English. Maybe P. Wong could help us out with that…? πŸ™‚

  60. Margot says:

    The video of Zhen Zhen exploring outdoors is just adorable. What a treat to see her tentatively walking on the grass, or climbing on a log, or just looking around the whole new world that is opening up to her. Thanks for those cute shots. Everything she does brings a smile to my face. It was also nice to hear from Lisa about the cub’s progress.

  61. Julie from NJ says:

    Hello, panda fans,

    I just viewed the ” panda fan club” site on which Kathi #56 said had some great shots of Mei Sheng…and they are! It’s wonderful seeing him looking healthy and finally out of quarantine; I know he must miss Lisa so much & wonder where his friend has gone.

    Then, when I think Miss ZZ cannot possibly get any more adorable, today’s new video was released…she is off the charts on the cuteness meter; fellow pandaholics, you must not miss it…! Lisa is speaking on this video, which is wonderful; I’m sure being with this sweet panda cub is helping her to come to terms with missing ‘her boy’ Mei Sheng……sigh!

    I would like to send my very best wishes to all of the staff at the SDZ , and to all the bloggers during this season of joy…happy holidays…!

  62. Louise says:

    #56 Kathi — thanks so much for pointing us to the pictures of Mei Sheng! His new home looks like it has lots of things for him to explore.

  63. Carol in Austin says:

    #43 Frances – The wait is over. The latest video, in a word, is precious. At the beginning, Zhen Zhen’s ” dismount” from a log results in her first headstand! I cannot believe how fast her mobility has progressed. She is curious yet cautious and I can just hear her saying, ” what’s all this green stuff?” . Alas, she’ll be up those trees before we know it.

  64. Dani in Miami says:

    I was wondering if Su Lin and Tai Shan could meet each other. They both seem so lonely maybe they could be friends.

  65. pandafan says:

    Hello fellow panda lovers. I just saw the latest video of Zoom Zoom that was just done today. What a sweetheart!!! She is in an enclosed outdoor area with Bai, walking and just starting to get the hang of being off the ground. She is really moving along, walking along the horizontal logs, providing genuine amusement with the occasional ” oopsie” . In one of her slip-ups, she falls right on her head and her little feet hang in the air for just a second – just enough to have that ” cuteness meter” go up to the highest mark. Wonderful close-ups showing those inquisitive eyes – cute as cute can be, I tell you.

  66. Mary from SF says:

    OMG! The first five seconds of today’s ZZ video is so hilarious and cute, it’s actually painful! The log! The tumble! The tiny legs waving in the air!

  67. Mary from SF says:

    P.S. Oh! Kathi #56: Thank you! So good to see Mei Sheng’s continuing adventures! He looks…great πŸ™‚

  68. joan says:

    in her most recent video, zhen zhen exhibited the most magnificient hand stand ever performed by a panda!


    painted post, n.y.

  69. Carol says:

    Evenings in the den are SO SWEET these days! Poor Bai just trying to get her beauty sleep and darlin’ Zhen either climbing all over her, treating her like an all-you-can-eat buffet, or tormenting her wanting to play and climb. Then Bai gets our little Zoom Zoom settled down and they snuggle and sleep. I just love it!

  70. Candy in Iowa says:

    To Candy Coleman 23 # – Once again, thanks for the current update on our Old Boy Shi Shi. He is still a precious old man and can take great pride in his 6 grandchildren with Hua Mei. Those genes are a very important contribution to the gene pool too, since she was his only offspring, in captivity any way.

    This morning is the picture of peace and contentment in the den. Bai and Zhen are curled up so close together that their black bands just melt into one another and it looks like they are actually connected. I’m sure things will liven up later this morning.

    I’ve not had the chance to watch them much lately and can not believe how BIG our baby is getting! Bai, you will always be Mother #1 in the US panda world!!

  71. Widget says:

    I think my eyes deceived me. I was watching Bai and Zhen in the den last night. About 8 SDZ time. I saw bamboo flying, and then it looked like Bai did a summersault while playing with Zhen! I couldn’t believe my eyes because she is alot of bear to flip over! Plus the den is so small. But it sure looked like they were both having a good time! Then they settled down for a nap. Or Bai Yun did, not so much Miss Z. How much fun they are to watch.

  72. Barbara in Las Vegas says:

    I was at the zoo this week and visited the panda exhibit twice. Su Lin has gotten huge! During my morning visit, Su Lin and Gao Gao were doing a panda’s second favorite thing…..sleeping. I went back later around lunchtime and both were cruising the exhibit impatiently waiting for lunch. It’s always great to talk with Ellie because she always has a little tidbit about the pandas to share with you. This trip she told me what a very smart bear Su Lin is and that Hua Mei in China has become more and more like her mama. Hua Mei still holds a special place in my heart and always will. This is a great time to visit as it’s not crowded and there’s no waiting in line to see any of the animals.

  73. Mary says:

    Watched Bai and ZZ outside today and the little one is quite proficient in falling off the logs and tree branches, but she’s quite determined and goes right back up the log and falls off again. Too cute!

  74. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Hi all and good Friday to you! So glad you were able to find the link to Mei Sheng. That blog site is a good one to check in with every once in awhile, that’s where I was able to find the video of him right after he arrived in Shanghai and Wolong both. I hope the blogger doesn’t mind all of us interlopers! πŸ™‚

    Carol, #69–I think I was watching Zhen and Bai the same time you were last night. They both were making me laugh out loud! Zhen is just like a typical toddler–” play with me, feed me, play with me again, I don’t care if you’re tired or not.” Ha!!! Bai looked like she just wanted a long nap and wasn’t succeeding…at all.. Adorable!!!

  75. Susan O says:

    Thanks to SDZ, WowWee and the Meerkats for the wonderful Pandacam views of all of our favorite pandas. Hard to believe that Zhen Zhen is already developing her climbing skills and that Su Lin, who was doing the same 2 years ago, is now such a big girl bear contentedly munching her boo just like Mom!

  76. Margie (Home Decor) Greco says:

    I feel sad for Poor Su Lin.

  77. Candy in Iowa says:

    I finally got to watch the new video of Little Zhen! OMG – how priceless! She is going to be an adventurous little girl! I can not believe how well she is getting around, climbing, balancing and yes, even a Olympic quality handstand! Those close up shots are incredible. I just want to reach out and hug that adorable fur ball!

    Go get ’em Zoom Zoom!

    Kathy #56- Thanks for the update and instructions for finding Mei Sheng’s pictures. Looks like our youngest Romeo-to-be is having a good time exploring his new digs.

  78. Frances in NY says:

    Hi, #71 Widget–I saw it too. I love Bai Yun’s bamboo dances and she’s quite limber in the den. And today, Miss ZZ spent a lot of time climbing up onto and falling off of a small branch structure. As with the doorframe, she was very persistent and kept try trying again. The last time she landed in the branches and didn’t come out right away. Bai Yun pulled her out and flipped her over a few times and licked her and lay down with her to make sure she was all right–like kissing the boo boo and making it well. They’re snuggling in the den now. I totally agree with Candy #70–Bai Yun is the best.

  79. Deb says:

    Just a reminder to everyone, zoo admission tickets make great Christmas gifts. I have done this many times in the past and everyone seems to love them.

  80. Carrie says:

    #34 Mei Xaing and Tian Tian also ‘argue’ more. Just the other day Mei was in a tree eating a pear or apple when she saw Tian being fed more treats by the keepers. She jumped down, raced over there and jumped Tian, trying to take his fruit away! It resulted in a wrestling match with lots of barking and shoving.

  81. Paula says:

    The latest precious panda video is to die for! It just doesn’t get any cuter than that, my friends!

    Zhen Zhen, we all want YOU for Christmas!

  82. Rheyna says:

    SURE WISH WE COULD GET SOME DETAILED UPDATES ABOUT MEI SHENGS DOINGS WHILE IN QUARANTINE. WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE AREA LOOKS LIKE – DOES HE HAVE SOME TREES TO HANG FROM????? PERHAPS SOMEONE WOULD ASK SCOTT TO WRITE A BLOG FOR THE SITE OR PUT A VIDEO ON YOU-TUBE. If in the long run Mei Sheng likes playing with other pandas in same pen then probably he will be happier but I am sure that right now he is VERY lonely and sad with basically only one person giving him attention and if the pen is small with no trees, etc. then that is horrible.

  83. Rita says:

    Looks like Zhen has passed the milestone of climbing trees!

    It is so great that, in what may be Bai’s last cub, she has one that isn’t afraid to play with her.

  84. Margot says:

    About 8 a.m. today, Little ZZ was foraging around outside in the bamboo with her mother. It was so adorable to see her sidle up to Mom, sit up against the log, grab a piece of ‘boo, and try to copy Bai Yun. What a big girl she’s getting to be, but still so small next to Bai. It reminded me that the last time I saw Bai Yun sharing her food was last February before Su Lin was weaned. Time does fly when you’re watching the pandas!

  85. ALKW says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how big Miss Z has gotten!! She was just outside, playing follow the leader, wrestling with Bai, practicing her climbing skills, and just being unbelievably cute. Watching her grow and mature has been beyond fascinating.I have always found pandas to be interesting but now after watching the panda cam on a regular basis for the past few months, I realize actually how captivating and charming they really are. Thinking back to how tiny and fragile ZZ was when she was born, it seems incredible that Bai, being so large comparatively, raised her. Rarely, have I seen such finesse. Gao Gao and Su Lin never fail to amaze me either. Gao Gao’ seems to have turned eating into an art form, efficient and precise in his method. Whereas Su Lin exemplifies grace and poise with her uncanny ability to balance herself, even on the most precarious tree limb. I am sure you all know this already, but I wanted to express my awe and wonder and thank everyone at SDZ.

  86. Carol says:

    Zhen Zhen is rolling and writhing around like a crazy little bear. I keep wondering if it’s because she has to poop, but doesn’t know how yet? I’ve seen this behavior on the cam before and always wonder.

    Also, the polar bears got some snow last weekend and the elephants were getting some yesterday. Any plans to have a ” snow day” for Su Lin and Gao Gao?

  87. AC in NYC says:

    The latest Video of Zhen is sooo cute… and I thought the last one was the cutest. These beautiful animals are so fun to watch !

  88. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    Something is going on with the elephant cam….I am not getting any video..????? I wanted to see the snow this weekend….is there any time lapse video for the elephants???

    ZZ is so adorable….I too love the ” handstand” !! She walks a little tentatively, but is relaly making progress…can’t wait to see her out on exhibit! I’m sure the public is chomping at the bit too!!

    Moderator’s note: Sadly, our Elephant Cam developed a glitch over the weekend and we are still trying to resolve the problem and restore Elephant Cam viewing. So far, only Panda Cam offers the time lapse feature.

  89. Karen in Pasadena says:

    As many of you might know, Tian Tian had his eyelid operated on this week. Check the National Zoo website for more information. Get well soon, Big Buddy!

  90. Carrie says:

    I know this is off subject, but everyone needs to check the NZ pandacam website. Poor Tian Tian has suffered an injury. He needs all of your prayers, as he has ‘cherry eye’.