Farewell, Wolong

Posted at 5:27 pm December 18, 2007 by Lisa Martin

Giant panda Mei Sheng moved to Wolong, China on November 5, 2007. Lisa Bryant of the San Diego Zoo accompanied him on his journey and has shared the trip through blog installments. See Lisa’s previous blog, Mei Sheng on His Own.

Hello again. I’m glad so many of you were able to share in the details of Mei Sheng’s journey to the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center last month. Although I experienced pride, anxiety at times, joy, and a wee bit of sorrow during the trip, it was not “all work and no play.” On the day following the good bye’s to our sweet boy Mei Sheng I had a “free” day of sorts. There were no animal moves planned, no ceremonies to attend, and Mei Sheng was settled in at the Center’s quarantine facility.

 Lisa in keeper garbMy definition of “play” may differ from yours. It had been almost five days since I had worked as a keeper. Oh sure, there were the great moments interacting with Mei Sheng to get him safely to his destination and the occasional heave ho of crates here and there. But I hadn’t picked up a rake and shovel, or tied a bundle of anything, for almost a week! I think I was having withdrawals. I asked Dr. Desheng if it would be alright for me to spend a day with the keepers at Wolong, working with the pandas. He said he had hoped I could give a short lecture before lunch that day, but if I wanted to work on grounds that was fine, too. “Yea, I get to work with the keepers!” I thought. “Boo, I have to give a lecture,” I thought at the same time. Not that I didn’t want to interact with their staff, but by this time I was just about talked out, considering all the media and panda fans we had encountered since we left San Diego. But I had been given a DVD of Bai Yun’s ultrasounds, and Mei Sheng’s keepers had sent me off with a DVD of their training efforts with him. Wouldn’t it be nice for me to watch the DVDs with Wolong’s frontline employees and be able to answer any questions they had first hand? Perfect! I had my day planned.

 Lisa with juvenile pandaThe morning started out very cold. (I’m not a fan of cold. That is why I live in San Diego.) Nonetheless, I was excited to see my old friends Wu and Wei, who had been to the San Diego Zoo several years before. I had been able to pick them out of the crowd during Mei Sheng’s welcome-home ceremony. Wu, a lead keeper like myself, met me at 8:30 a.m. He got a pair of coveralls for me to wear while I worked with him in the maternity area. I watched the little juvenile pandas just waking up across the way. I could hear keepers calling their animals off exhibit into holdings so that the business of cleaning exhibits and feeding could be done. It felt comfortable! (Lisa is pictured with one of the one-year-olds.)

Wu and I walked to his area past some of the other volunteer staff who participate in their program. Everyone was busy. Wu opened all the doors, of course, but he let me feed the females to help shift them where he needed them to be. We traded sweeping up and scrubbing rooms and hosing as we moved along the row of buildings. I took pictures of the blood draw sleeves that were affixed to most bedrooms, an idea I like to think San Diego helped them cultivate. He commented how he liked San Diego’s hoses better. I know why: we have fantastic water pressure, but more importantly, our hoses have the threads we can attach nozzles to at their ends; Wolong’s hoses were just long enough to be able to reach what we were hosing and they had no threaded end, just a blunt cut. Brooms made of all-natural materials and large, metal boxes with wire handles for shovels were our tools. The routine was status quo: sweep, scrub, hose, squeegee. No disinfectant was allowed in this area due to the mothers’ sensitivities while they have cubs.

There was only one bedroom I was not allowed to enter, as the mother was still in the cradling phase with her cub. I was allowed to watch from the building door as Wu entered the bedroom with this dam. He walked right up to her while she cradled her cub in her arms and showed her some food to entice her to shift for cleaning. As he led her to another room, the mother complied by walking on three legs and holding the cub in her right fore arm. How cool is that?! I’d never seen firsthand anything like this before. Our management of giant pandas is quite different in San Diego. Though I think we could probably get away with entering a pen with our pandas in an emergency situation, it is not in any way, shape, or form a practice that we employ. We really have no need. Despite the easy-going demeanor and slow, deliberate pace, giant pandas are still bears. There is a picture on one of the graphic panels, outside the San Diego Zoo’s panda gift shop, of two bears engaged in less-than-friendly communication. That is probably my favorite panda picture because it reminds me daily of that very fact. But I digress. Every other bedroom we cleaned had a mother and, in the corner of the room, a cub. Wu also let me place those cubs in safe, dry boxes while we cleaned the bedroom and then return them when we finished. It took the place, for me, of the cub exams I was missing back home with our newest cub, now known as Zhen Zhen.

 Hua Mei at WolongWe had time for one more bedroom before I needed to prepare for my keeper talk. The mother was still eating her bamboo. I stood there with my bread ready to offer, but she paid me no attention. Mr. Wu pointed to her and said, “Hua Mei” so casually I almost didn’t hear him. “What?” I had to ask. He repeated himself and I pointed to the little cub in the corner and said “Hua Mei’s baby?” “Yes, one of them” he replied. “The other is in the nursery.” Ohmigosh, ohmigosh! Our little Mei Mei all grown up. I was gazing at one of the twins from her third set since she had arrived in Wolong! (Hua Mei is pictured at right.)

 Hua Mei's cubIt makes me sound so lame, but if I didn’t know any better I’d swear I was looking at Bai Yun: a large female totally involved in one of her favorite pastimes…eating. The cub was sleeping comfortably in the den corner, which has always translated for Bai that it was a good time to mack out on any and all food available. Like mother, like daughter! Hua Mei even sported the same laissez-faire attitude which seemed to say, in my anthropomorphic translation, “There’s my baby. Help yourselves, but don’t wake her up. I’m busy.” I snapped some pictures, but we still had work to do. I was unable to be present for any of the twin swapping that occurs, but later in the day I went looking for Wu, who works in the nursery. I didn’t find him, but one of the nursery staff held a cub up to the window and waved its paw at me. It was Mei’s other baby. I fired off a snapshot (pictured above) and spent the rest of the time ogling the little face through the window. Funny how they knew I’d be interested in seeing Mei and her babies. What a joy!

 Panda ValleyAfter my keeper work fix, I went back to my room to change for our keeper talk which, unfortunately, did not happen due to technical difficulties. So after lunch, we decided to take in the sites. Did you know that there is a Giant Panda Museum devoted to all things panda? It is not far from Wolong’s panda facility. We had our own docent to tour us through the facility. Very interesting! From murals to biological samples to historical and prehistoric exhibits, it was a fantastic opportunity to see. We also took a ride farther up the road to Panda Valley. At the entrance is an interpretive exhibition hall in the making. Beyond that, there is a beautiful hike through mountains and caves across suspension bridges and up and down hand-made steps surrounded by forest and waterfalls. Just breath taking! It turned out to be an enriching day for me and a wonderful farewell to Wolong that I’ll hold in my memories for years to come.

Lisa Bryant is a team area lead at the San Diego Zoo.

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54 Responses to “Farewell, Wolong”

  1. Kris says:

    Thank you Lisa, for another excerpt of your fascinating story! How wonderful it must have been for you to see Hua Mei and see her third set of cubs. She really does resemble Bai Yun and the cub is adorable, as I am sure the other twin is also. Congrats to you on a job well done!

  2. Barbara in Las Vegas says:

    What a total joy to hear about Hua Mei and to see the pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. She will always be #1 in my heart, being the first I followed on Panda Cam.

  3. Bobbie Wood says:

    Dear Lisa!

    Thank You for the latest episode! Thank You for deciding that your ‘day off’ would be spent helping with the Pandas!!! I am certain every single reader is going to THANK YOU for the Photos!! Hua Mei and her cubby are beautiful. Yes, I can definitely see why you thought you were looking at Bai Yun. Hua looks just like her Mom..she even sits in the same position. Thank you for sharing the manner in which the Momma Pandas and their cubs ‘den’. Also for sharing how the one Momma Panda carried her cub. There is not a day that passes where I do not learn something amazing about the Pandas and their loving keepers.

    Thank you very much for your update. (Are you thinking the computer is more fun now? 🙂 )

    Sincerely,

    Bobbie Wood

  4. Holly - Upstate NY says:

    WOW! thank-you soooo much for sharing your experience at Wolong like this, Lisa!! How wonderful it must have been for you to be so close to our special Hua Mei and one of her twins. Moments to cherish forever! What a wonderful, gratifying, and unforgettable day for you.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Wow, wow, wow! I am speechless – what an incredible blog. Oh, and you got to see our little girl – Hua Mei and her babies – I almost screamed out loud when I read that. Hua Mei was my first – and holds such a special place in my heart. Wow… I just don’t know what to say except thank you so much for sharing your adventure and your wonderful day working at Wolong – and sharing a picture or our girl – what a joy! Gosh, between Pamela’s poem and Hua Mei and her babies photo – it’s been a great day. Happy Holidays everyone!

  6. Candy in Iowa says:

    Oh Lisa! The update on Hua Mei that we’ve been waiting for! She and her cub, of course, are just beautiful. I wish so much I could have been in your shoes that day. I’ll never forget when we had to ship our first cub to China. It does not get any easier either. I know they are in great hands over there and very well taken care of.

    Thanks once more for taking time out of your busy schdule to write another update for us!!! All of them were just fantastic to read.

  7. Catbelly says:

    What a wonderful adventure filled with surprises. Your story leaves me speechless.

  8. Mary from SF says:

    Lisa, Lisa, Lisa!! What a joy to read the story of your wonderful working day at Wolong! It was an unexpected delight this evening to find your engaging account–I feared your last entry might be the final installment in the series. It was so fun to see a picture of Bai Yun’s ” grandbaby” and to hear that Hua Mei is doing well and being a good laid-back mama just like Bai.

    Honestly, you should write a book about your work with the pandas (um, like you have time, right?). But I know there are thousands (millions?) of panda lovers who’d be first in line to buy it.

    Thanks for this–you made my day!

  9. Margaret says:

    Lisa, thanks for saving the happiest part for last. It was a wonderful ending to a very emotional and physically draining trip for you. To get to see both of Hua Mei’s latest cubs (2 more than her mom no less) and to see her up close as a grown up experienced panda dam, eating as her mother taught her, was a crowning tribute to all the care and training you gave her when she was a cub at SDZ. To see Panda Valley, the ‘real’ home of pandas in the wild, was also a great way to end your visit to Wolong, as it reinforced the true meaning of why you are doing what you are doing to help conserve the pandas, and to bring them to their natural home.

    Although I know you must have been somewhat sad to leave Mei Sheng behind, seeing how well Hua Mei has adapted and thrived as a successful mother, and to see the natural beauty of their panda ” home” would have lifted your spirits and sent you on your journey home with a smile on your face and in your heart.

    Thank you for sharing in such great and intimate detail the adventures, ups and downs, of your trip. You may be computer phoebic, but you are an outstanding writer. Please heed our suggestions and compile these accounts into book(let) form to share with people who may not have read this heart warming account of a very important journey for a handsome young male panda born in San Diego, California, USA, who is now a proud resident of Wolong China.

    Who knows, maybe next year Panda Claws will share copies with Mei Sheng’s ” girl” of his dreams, and possibly their little ones. How exciting a thought it is to think of potentially having both Hua Mei’s and Mei Sheng’s cubs at Wolong next year. Unbelievable when I look at Precious 4 month old Zhen Zhen, and then realize how fast she is growing and maturing. Just 4 short years ago Mei Sheng was in the same stage of life as she is, and now he has moved half way around the world, and could potentially become a sire of his own cubs next year. Wow!!!

    Thanks also for taking the pictures of Hua Mei and her cub, and most importantly for sharing them with us. It is an amazing thing to see.

  10. Chet in Malaysia says:

    Lisa

    Thank you for your update on Hua Mei. During my 4-day volunteer time in Wolong back in early September, I got to see one of Hua Mei’s babies through the window of the nursery. I have a picture, too, and I’m wondering if it’s the same baby you saw in the nursery.

    I’m hoping to be able to return to Wolong at least once a year. The next time I visit, I will be able to see Mei Sheng, too!

  11. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Well, Lisa–color me green with envy! You have the most fantastic job ever!! I’m thrilled that you got to see Hua Mei, she was my first pandacam baby..Sounds like she’s doing a fine job, following in her mother’s footsteps! I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be surrounded by pandas like that–what a thrill! Thank you so much for yet another enlightening vision of Wolong!

  12. Rachel from NY says:

    What an experience to treasure forever! How thoughtful of the Wolong staff to let you spend time with Hua Mei and her cubs! What a thrill that must have been for you! Thank you for taking the time to share all these details.

  13. Marilyn says:

    Lisa, Glad you got to see Hua Mei and her babies. Thanks for sharing your experiences at Wolong.

  14. Helen Rainier says:

    What a wonderful blog entry — your adventures in Wolong sound so exciting. It gave me goosebumps to read about your encounter with Hua Mei and one of her babies. I have been addicted to pandas since Hua Mei was born and have followed every other panda birth in the US since that time. She will always be my very favorite as she was my first panda to watch upon being born and growing up. They are all so very special and precious. I’m so happy to know that two of our very own US born pandas are making such wonderful contributions to the preservation of the great pandas.

  15. Anna says:

    Lisa, thank you for an awesome accounting. I cried when I saw Hua Mei’s cub. Your experiences are absolutely amazing. I hope you are keeping a diary that will one day turn into a book on the experiences of a caregiver for pandas. Thank you.

  16. Widget says:

    Magnificent! Lisa, at the risk of repeating this yet again..you write so well and to me it’s like following a chapeter in a book. I actually gasped out loud when Mr. Wu said ” Hua Mei” . Its like a dream. A wonderful dream. I am so glad to hear that you got to see our Hua Mei, and she you. Thank you for taking the time and letting all of us share your time with Sheng, and Wolong. I also hope it is not ” Goodbye” for you Sheng and Hua Mei, but ” See you soon” .

  17. Rose N. says:

    Many thanks Lisa for this most enjoyable and fascinating blog.

    How wonderful it must have been to meet with our beloved Hua Mei and her adorable babies. No doubt, that alone certainly made your day.

    The report on the mother panda walking on three legs while holding the cub in her right forearm, in order to shift rooms for cleaning, touched my heart. How astonishing is that? – you have to see it to believe it!

    Panda Valley looks incredibly beautiful. So glad you were able to get some down time while in Wolong. Indeed memories you will hold close to your heart forever.

  18. Mae in NJ says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for this final chapter of your important assignment to Wolong. Seeing a contented Hua Mei and her twins can perhaps lead us to anticipate the day when Mei Sheng may contribute to a similiar result with another female giant panda. Your words have brought closure to this very difficult parting, words that bring hope, pride and friendship. We all greatly appreciate your efforts to communicate your observations and emotions. I hope your contacts at Wolong will continue to provide updates on Mei Sheng and Hua Mei.

  19. Joy :) says:

    Thanks Lisa for another fabulous blog about your trip, especially the pictures and info about Hua Mei. Wow, what a beauty! We were all hoping you’d be able to bring back news of our first panda baby. Her cub is adorable too! A million Thanks!!!

    It is nice to know about the cooperation between the US and China in panda breeding and research. Even though you did not get to do your lecture, there was a mutual time of teaching and learning as you worked along side them. It makes me think of the meaning of this holiday season… Peace on Earth.

    Has the Zoo contacted a book publisher about your blogs getting printed? They should really think about it.

    Love, Joy 🙂

  20. Grace says:

    Thank you Lisa for sharing such wonderful tales of your trip! We are all grateful for your work and for posting pictures of Hua Mei and her cub! That is a definite treat to us!

  21. Joanne says:

    These stories are great,you are so lucky to be able to work so closely with the pandas,what a fantastic experience.I hope you have some more stories to tell us they are very entertaining,we could almost be there with you,thak you for sharing your time with us pandaholics 🙂

  22. Bobbie McLeod says:

    I am so thrilled to see Hua Mei and twice as thrilled to see one of her little ones. She is absolutely beautiful – yes, just like her Mom. Sounds like she is the same kind of Mom too! I fell in love with Hua Mei from the very beginning of this wonderful adventure with the SDZ. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us – although it can never replace having the actual opportunity of your travel, it sure is a good 2nd place. My heart broke when you had to leave our little boy, but then you turn around and share seeing Hua Mei and the smiles return. These past years sharing ‘all things Panda’ by ‘staying tuned’ to this wonderful site have been a daily ‘pick me up’ – Silly as it may sound, I think Bai Yun is an incredible example of motherhood – one that perhaps many should watch and learn from.

    Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a Healthy New Year to all at the SDZ, especially those in Panda Land!

  23. Mary says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Can’t thank you enough for your wonderful blogs! It’s great that you got to spend a day doing what you love and especially seeing Hua Mei and her babies-WOW! Thanks so much for the pictures and the report-it does my heart good to know that Hua Mei is doing so well!

    One nagging question though, from the data and experience that’s available over the past several years, is it really ok for Hua Mei and the other females to have babies every year? Seems like a big strain physically and emotionally. If they were in the wild, it would be more like every other year, wouldn’t it? I know that our zoo staff is probably concerned about being politically correct, and I’m not asking you to bash the staff at Wolong. I’m just wondering what the data says, and why SD Zoo chooses the present method of cub rearing rather than accelerating the process as they are doing at Wolong. Is there any where I can look for this information?

    Thanks again,

    Mary 🙂

  24. RHONDA says:

    AAAh….she is so pretty….and her cub is just adorable….Lisa I have a question….during a search for Mei Sheng- I came across an article from cbbc about his trip to China to find a girlfriend- then it said that at some point in the future, he would be returning to America, but, at this time he was to go there to further advance his breed- I knew that part-but, didn’t realize the part that one day he would come back–is that true?

  25. Carol Deluca says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for another beautiful story of your trip. It makes all of us feel so much a part of what you do, even sitting here in Kalamazoo, MI. You must have felt something like a proud grandmother seeing Hua Mei and her twins. How blessed you are to work with these magnificent animals, and how blessed we are to receive your thoughts and learn from you. May you have a very Merry Christmas and a jouyous new year.

  26. barbara says:

    Lisa, thank you so much, you have just made my holidays alot more merry seeing Hua Mei and one of the twins. She has grown and is so beautiful.I remember the day she was born and how the world stopped for just a moment to revel in this joyous event. The day she was given her name still stays in my mind as they held her up.

    Lisa I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for all that you have done for Mei Sheng and all the pandas and a very happy holiday to you and your family. Peace , love and joy

  27. Rees family says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for all your blogs detailing your trip.

  28. Shari says:

    Lisa, I’m so glad you got to see Hua Mei! Did she recognize you or recognize English being spoken? I feel very lucky that I got to see Hua Mei just before she left for China.

    I was just watching Lun Lun and Mei Lan playing and thinking that they’ll probably only be together for a couple more months. That got me to thinking about panda breeding season (coming up soon!). I wonder if Ya Ya will have a January estrus again. I hope Memphis has a cub in ’08 – they came so close this year!! But the main question I have is will the National Zoo be trying to artificially inceminate Mei Xiang with Gao Gao’s semen again? I got a real kick from the article that the container with Gao Gao’s contribution got to fly first class but Dr. Howard rode coach!

  29. Stacy says:

    oh! Hua Mei’s precious babies! Thank you so much for taking the time to write of your experiences in China. I’ve enjoyed every installment, and feel so much better about our boy, Sheng, having gone *home*. And thank you so much for the pictures! I felt like I was with you there, looking through the glass into the nursery. I’ll be there myself in September 2008. Can’t wait!

    Happy Holidays to everyone at SDZ. Thank you for your hard work, dedication and for sharing these bears with us.

  30. Marie says:

    Good Morning Lisa,

    That was a wonderful account. I’m so glad that you got to see Hua Mei and her latest babies. Even though Wolong is so beautiful, I am still going to miss Mei Sheng very much. Wolong sounds like a beautiful place. I wish I could see it. (I wish I could see the SDZ but I cannot walk very far. Sometimes just across a room is too much.) That is why I enjoy this webcam so much.

    Are you comfortable with him being there? (I think your opinion is very important since you cared for him for so long.)

  31. Bruce in KC says:

    Lisa, I’m glad that you got to see Hua Mei and her cubs! I’m curious if Hua Mei recognized you after awhile. It would be interesting to conduct a study of the Giant Panda’s long-term memory. Obviously this would have to be a long-term study. The research could start with Hua Mei, then the twins from Japan, and finally Mei Sheng in China. Conversely this same research could be done with the adult pandas at all four US zoos to see if they remember their keepers from their past at Wolong and Chengdu.

    I never cease to be amazed at the intelligence of all of the pandas that I see on the various webcams, especially their interaction with enrichment items.

  32. Barbara in Midwest says:

    Lisa, what a wonderful experience you had–aside from the sadness of having to leave Mei Sheng, I mean. Of course they knew you would want to see Hua Mei! In the picture you provided, she does look just like her mother. Bai must have passed on the wonderful mothering skills. Wonderful Bai Yun!

    Panda Valley is beautiful. No doubt by the time I (ever) get to Wolong, it will be open. And I would be sure to visit the museum. Thanks for your journal. You knew we here would be interested. How we envy you.

  33. Julie from NJ says:

    Lisa, thank you so much for this wonderful entry about your final time in Wolong! Hua Mei is a beautifu adult panda, and her cub, well, what can I say…? Is there any animal in the world more engaging than a panda cub…? This photo of one of her twins, is absolutely adorable…I rest my case! Thank you for thinking of pandaholics everywhere and sharing them with us!

    Although your final parting from Mei Sheng was painful, I’m sure seeing Hua Mei and her twins being so well cared for and happy, validates all of your hard work over the years, and brings hope for the future of our beloved pandas.

    Please consider writing a book about your time in China, as it would certainly bring to the world the reason you work so diligently to save the pandas from extinction; I cannot imagine a world without these beautiful creatures.

    Merry Christmas to you and everyone at the SDZ, as well as to all my fellow bloggers. Happy New Year, too!

  34. Diana says:

    I’d like to add my thanks, too, for sharing your incredible journey with all of us. Seeing Hua Mei and her twins must of seemed like you had come full circle. Your dedication and love for these animals is so inspiring. Others have mentioned that you have a book in you–you certainly do! In the meantime, best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

  35. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    Such an opportunity for all of us pandaholics to live ” vicariously” through you and experience your trip to Wolong through your blog entries. It has been wonderful to read these.

    All the ” bloggers” say it daily and we all mean it – you all do some wonderful and incredible work there at SDZ. You are amazing people and truly are treasures! I wish you all a VERY Merry Christmas – or whatever holiday you celebrate. And continued health and Happiness in 2008. God Bless you ALL!!!

  36. Margaret says:

    #18, Mae in NJ, how beautifully said. I agree completely.

  37. Peggy says:

    Wow! What can any say a great day for you and lucky for us that you got to see our Hua Mei and her babies. It must of been the best thing that could of happened for you getting to see Hua Mei and be so close to her & her babies. I am happy to hear she is doing well and the pictures are priceless. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your time at Wolong with us and what joy it has brought to us all. One day I am hoping to also go to Wolong I am saving my money now and I can’t wait to be able to see our American born Pandas while there. Again thank you so much for these blogs and letting us know how are pandas are doing and your time there. You certainly are very dedicated to the Pandas and it shows in your writings.

  38. Catherine says:

    It’s been a joy following Lisa and Mei Sheng but I’m left with one question. Did Lisa learn whether or not dear old Shi Shi is still alive? There’s been no news of this old guy for months, since you posted a message to the blog that he may have died. I remember him so well, just as I recall one of the docents at the Wild Panda Research Station saying, with such affection, ” I love Shi Shi.” So, is no news good news or did Lisa not learn or check into his status?

  39. Margaret says:

    Catherine, #38, Shi Shi is alive and well. Check previous blog ” Rainy Days Just aren’t the same” #23, Candy Coleman Says: December 10th, 2007 at 12:28 pm – Candy has a friend who keeps her updated on Shi Shi. It is the latest news on the old gentleman.

    http://www.sandiegozoo.org/wordpress/default/rainy-days-just-arent-the-same/

  40. barbara says:

    Mae #18 from 1 Jersey gal to another very well said Thank you

  41. sheryl says:

    Thanks for a great post and thanks for the pictures of Hua Mei and one of her babies. It’s pretty cool that you got to see them.

  42. Mae in NJ says:

    Whenever a giant panda born in the USA is sent to China to participate in the breeding program, we Americans feel like we have lost ” our” panda. However, we must remember that these pandas do not exist for our amusement and entertainment, nor are they animals to be ” owned.” These wonderful bears are critical elements to the survival of their species and are creatures that belong to the world, not just the facility taking care of them. I too felt an immense sadness to see Mei Sheng leave, and it will be time for tears again when it is Mei Lan’s time to go. But when Lisa described Hua Mei sitting in a room with one of her cubs and took a picture of the other twin, so adorable (I’m so jealous!), she put the focus where it belongs regarding the giant pandas: bringing more pandas into the world.

    One of ” our” pandas, Hua Mei, has increased the panda count by SIX! and counting. We can only hope that Mei Sheng, with his valuable wild genetic background, will be prolific and masterful as his Dad. Our sadness will surplanted with pride and joy when we tally the cub births these American pandas contribute to the total population.

    Thank you, Barbara #40. I apologize for writing another comment, but just had to add these thoughts.

  43. Susan Harrison says:

    Oh what a blessing to have seen Hua Mei and her kids! She is still so cute and pudgy! 🙂 Thank you so much for the update. I hope to make it there one day to see Sheng and Mei!

  44. Carole says:

    I cannot thank you enough for your beautifully descriptive accounts of your journey with Mei Sheng (the panda love of my life) and this most recent one of Hua Mei — what a beautiful animal she is and so like her mother, Bai Yun.

  45. marian UK says:

    Thank you lisa your posts have been a joy to read, Zhen Zhen is the first panda that i have seen born,i had not long found your cam site, cant believe what i had been missing, all your information from all the staff at sdz, it has taught me a lot about pandas, also thank you thank you all you other bloggers i have joined in with your tears and your smiles over the last few months, and little brightstar as she was then was just the thing i needed she was my bright star, she is a precious girl, and look forward to the new year and all it has in store from the panda cam, i wish all the staff at sdz a very happy christmas and a good new year, and to all bloggers happy christmas and happy new year, keep writing and i will keep reading,and a special thank you to pamela for that truly amazing poem.

    happy christmas to those wonderful pandas at sdz best wishes marian

  46. Rebecca Souza says:

    Lisa, what a huge surprise while reading your blog to see suddenly Hua Mei and her cub picture. What a wonderful Christmas gift, to share Hua Mei and her baby picture with us. It was emotional for me as I am sure it was for you and very surprising. We here at the office, have enjoyed tremendously the blogs from your trip. As funny as it is, there are attorneys here looking at the Panda camera when they have a chance. Thank you very very much for sharing all of these wonderful stories with us and the world. Love and Merry Christmas.

  47. Sayuri says:

    Just saw a photo of Mei Sheng taken on 12/19 at Wolong via wire. He looked like he owned the place already. And he looked a little bit grown up. I think he’s OK and that’s all that matters.

  48. Pamela G says:

    Lisa, I can’t thank you enough for your beautifully written accounts of your travels with Mei Sheng. You took us along, you immersed us in the experience: We saw and heard and felt what you did, which is the mark of a truly excellent writer. And you have reasured us all that Mei Sheng, and Hua Mei and her cubs, are thriving and happy.

    You, and all of the Panda Team, have my deepest respect and gratitude for what you do for the Pandas…and for us. Allowing us to share your world has added immeasurably to mine. Thank you.

    Have a Happy, Peaceful, and Loving Holiday.

  49. Kathi in Dallas says:

    The ” panda fan club” has a new photo of Mr. Sheng, relaxing in the sunlight at Wolong, taken 12/19! I live for these updates on him!! 🙂

  50. AC in NYC says:

    Lisa, thank you very much for Sheng’s updates. Glad to know Hua Mei is fine and her baby is soooooo Cute. I desperately need to hug one.

  51. Diana S. says:

    Thank you, thank you Lisa for another great picture story of life in Wolong. And Hua Mei and her babies—-how very wonderful for you!!

  52. Margaret says:

    Thanks, Kathy, #49. We all live for these moments to find out how he is adapting.

  53. Claudia Blick says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your wonderful writeup on Mei Sheng’s travels to China and his introduction to the Woolong Conservation Center. Can you give us an update on how he is settling in? Has he been introduced to the other pandas yet?

  54. Vicki Vincent says:

    I would love to hear current news of Mei Sheng, if possible. We miss his antics and his sweet nature.