Too Zhen Zhen!

Posted at 12:36 pm December 19, 2007 by Ellie Rosenbaum

 Zhen and Bai 12-07As 4 1/2 month-old panda Zhen Zhen spends more and more time out in the great outdoors with her mother, Bai Yun, and less time inside in her den, she grows stronger and more coordinated. And it gets closer to the time that she’ll be introduced to all of us! She is still a young cub, however, and this introduction, as with those of her siblings, must be a gradual process, comfortable for both cub and mother. To this end, I was able to spend some time observing her this morning, speaking softly over a microphone as a panda narrator to help acclimate her to the sound as ambient noise in her outdoor environment.

So what’s she like, our newest little girl? Precious, of course, but she’s that just by being a panda cub. What a rascal! She has the obvious intelligence of Bai’s side of the family, and the fiesty spunk of Gao Gao and Mei Sheng! Clambering and rolling, trying to climb, as panda cubs will do, but instead of working up the slanted branches, Zhen Zhen is trying to climb straight up the vertical tree trunks! (Of course she falls, which is half the fun, as long as she doesn’t bump her nose or chin. Please do not gasp or yell; it’s all part of the process!) Checking out the shelter box, clambering through and mouthing the piles of bamboo, grabbing a mouthful of Mom’s fur and tugging for attention, showing all those baby panda behaviors that make them so endearing. She is livelier than Su Lin was at the same age, with Mei Sheng’s adventurous streak, I think. From the little I’ve seen, she’s going to be a handful, in the best possible way, for both Mom and the staff here. We’re already checking the tree limbs’ position and length, even though she’s “bearly” up off the ground. We know from past experience what adept climbers this young bears can be, especially if they’re in an inquisitive mood!

And what of Bai Yun, the Perfect Panda? The great experienced panda mother is eating a lot, taking fruitsicles and bamboo away from her curious cub, and sleeping, and nursing, and cuddling the cub; just doing the “good panda mom” thing. When I left them, they’d curled up together on the grass for a nap.

As of this moment, no definite plans for public viewing have been announced and I can tell you that schedules are changing, sometimes on a daily basis, so be patient with all of us at the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station. Zhen Zhen is more than worth the wait!

Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

Note: Zhen Zhen will make her public debut on Saturday, December 22. She will be out daily from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Giant Panda Research Station’s “classroom” exhibit.

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71 Responses to “Too Zhen Zhen!”

  1. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the color-full update Ellie. Such a great Holiday present all of you are getting with an alert, mobile Zhen Zhen up and about exploring her environment. Bai’s peace-full days are coming to a close, until Zhen takes up residence in the tree tops like her sister and brother did. We ” out of towners” are envious of those of you who have the opportunity to see her up close and personal. Maybe we can work out a way to come visit later in the year, when the crowds have thinned down a bit.

    May your holidays be bright and joyous with the precious new panda in your midst! Thanks to all for everything you do, and a special thanks to all involved with the Panda Cam and sharing all the pictures, videos, and information/blogs on the Internet so that we can all be part of the ” SDZ panda family.”

    Hopefully the ” real” Panda Claws had some special moments with Mei Sheng before he sent him off to do his one-day Panda Claws gig with his US panda ” family.” We all await news in 2008 of births of panda cubs both in US and Mei Sheng and Hua Mei in China.

  2. Marie says:

    Yes, 🙂 that’s what I saw the other day. She was trying to climb the tree trunk straight up. After that failed, she went over to the logs that are lying down and crawled (tipped off), all over them. That’s why I believe it is a such a strong instinct for them to want to climb.

  3. Barbara says:

    Thank you so much for the newest update on our Zhen Zhen. Loved the picture with mom. Haven’t been able to spend much time on PandaCam as of late, so have missed a lot. Zhen Zhen will definitely be a ” go-getter!”

    So glad she is healthy and doing all the cub things!

    To each and everyone of you, have a Very Merry Christmas!

  4. Marilyn says:

    Can’t wait to see Zhen Zhen! 🙂

  5. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Ok, is there anything cuter?? She is an absolute doll, just like they all have been. Bai Yun is just such a perfect mom, look at her laying there with Zhen Zhen on her back.I can’t remember if it was with Su Lin or Mei Sheng or both, but Bai was eating and the baby wanted to play. She would stick her foot out like a barricade, holding the baby at bay while she tried to eat. Almost like she was saying ” Can a girl just get a little space, please?” 🙂 These pandas make the world such a better place..

  6. Darlene says:

    What a Merry Christmas it will be for those that are able to go to the SDZ and see this precious little girl… thanks for the wonderful update, love the picture of Zhen on Bai’s back. She is indeed getting her ” feet” under her, and what a joy to watch the latest video of her roaming around the yard.

    When I was at the SDZ she was just a tiny little cub on the TV screen, oh how I wish I could come back and see her. Look forward to all the new pictures, updates and video’s of all of the Panda’s. How they have touched our lives.

    Wouldn’t be a very good start to a day if we couldn’t check on all the bears at all of the Zoo’s in the USA. This Canadian thanks you all very much for your supberb care of not only the bears but all of the animals at the Zoo’s. Kinda fell in love with the Polar Bears when I was there a few months back too.

  7. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Miss Z has become a a confdent little cub – I just watched her climbing all over poor Bai-and as Bai knows the fun is just begiinning.

  8. Kris says:

    Be sure and check out the ” photo’s” link. There are several new pictures of Bai and the very adorable Miss ZZ! I am so glad she is making her debut. I will be there in January and look very forward to seeing her! And all the other panda’s of course. Last May, I didn’t get to see Gao Gao as he was off exhibit. Hopefully, I will get to meet the studmuffin in person this time! 🙂

  9. Lainie says:

    Ohhh yes, you can totally see her how her personality differs from that of her older sister Su Lin.

    As I mentioned in a past comment, you can definately tell Zhen is going to be a handful !! Thanx for the

    update and the sweet picture of Zhen on Bai’s back.

  10. KK West says:

    Wonderful cub update. I’m having so much fun watching this cub, when I’m able to peek in from work! Mei Lan was my first cam-cub, and this gorgeous cub brings back memories of events not so long ago. They do grow up so quickly!

    …and I feel honored that little Miss Z’s public debut is on my birthday. Nice present. 😉

    Moderator’s note: Have a happy birthday, KK!

  11. Bobbie Wood says:

    Ho! Ho! Ho!

    Panda Fans have been given a fantastic present! Zhen Zhen is going to be on exhibit!!! Thank you all at SDZ for the next adventure 🙂 It has been so much fun watching her play outside…a tase of what shall come!

    Merry Christmas To All!!!

  12. Cheryl says:

    What a pair – and I swear Bai is smiling in the photo – even with a little cubbie on her back. You can tell, she just loves her little Zhen Zhen! I might try and get out to see her the week after Christmas – what a great present to myself!

  13. Peggy says:

    Even though I am very busy with Pet Sitting I have arranged my schedule so I can come to see Zhen Zhen the first thing in the morning on her debute, I can hardly wait to see her and watch her play and explore. Thank you for letting us know. She reminds me of her brother and sister on her Moms back. I am so glad to hear she is doing well and Bui is comfortable with her being out. What a great Christmas present to all of us from the Zoo getting to see our precious Zhen Zhen, oh boy I am so excited….

  14. Grace says:

    Thanks for posting new pictures of Zhen Zhen and Bai Yun! They are fun to look at!

  15. Margot says:

    Many thanks to:

    –Suzanne, for the fascinating information about the personalities of the ” Gao/Yun” cubs.

    –Pamela G., for this year’s marvelous Panda Claws tale. I practically cried tears of joy reading it. Your poems are superb.

    –Lisa, for your final fascinating chapter on Wolong. Your dedication, even on your day off, is admirable. And it was wonderful to hear all about Hua Mei and see her darling baby.

    –Ellie, for giving us the up-to-date news on Zhen Zhen. That little one is one darling bundle of energy. Some of her recent pictures remind me of Hua Mei in ” Little Panda,” especially the one where Hua Mei is tugging on a branch.

    –To all the panda staff at SDZ who have cared so diligently and lovingly for Miss ZZ that she is now able to go on exhibit.

  16. Mae in NJ says:

    I’m so, so, so jealous that many of you will be able to see Zhen Zhen in person. Treasure your time with her because these few years go by so quickly.

  17. Susan Harrison says:

    This is such a blessing! She has Mei Sheng’s spunk and Bai Yun’s smarts! The Lord indeed blessed us with a very special lil gal with Mei Sheng’s attributes (just when we have barely gotten over the sadness of Mei Sheng’s departure)! I’m sure she is gonna keep all of us in awe again! Can’t wait to see her in person when I visit next month! Yay!!!!

  18. KK West says:

    On another note (and thanks to the Moderators for the wishes:-)), Lun Lun at ZA seems to be tolerating nursing less. They did have a good play bout today (finally, I saw it). But, she seems less tolerant of Mei these days.

    I’m so curious now. As to why and when cubs are separated from their mothers in captivity. Oh how I WISH I lived where I could learn more abou these beautiful creatures.

    I’m hooked.

  19. Carole says:

    How adorable! I hope to be first in line on December 22.

  20. Paula says:

    You have NOOO idea how jealous I am of you guys who get to see Zhen Zhen beginning Dec. 22nd! Well, maybe it’s best I’m all the way out here in TX, because she’s so cute I’d probably try to take her home with me! I asked (and got) SD Zoo panda stuff for Xmas, including a wonderful ornament for our tree.

    Zhen is so precious, but she doesn’t act like a girly-girl…she’s going for all the adventures head-on! What a wonderful Mom she has…wow, doesn’t it make you stop and think about the value of devotion. Sometimes I think unconditional love and caring is more innate in animals than it is in humans.

    Peace! And I am now going to check out the December wish list to see what remains that the critters of the Zoo need.

    Merry Christmas to All!

  21. Susan Kazula says:

    Yaay, I can’t wait. I was watching Zhen Zhen the other day, having great fun climbing, following Mum absolutely everywhere. I’ll be there (wish it could be in person, but the Webcam will do brilliantly) on Saturday.

    Love to all the pandas and the staff (do the pandas/other animals get anything special in their stockings at Christmas?)

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  22. Sharon says:

    What a treat it is to watch Bai and Zhen Zhen! I just sit here smiling, then grinning, then laughing out loud at the little girl’s antics. What a treat for all! Best wishes for the holidays to all the staff at SDZ – you certainly deserve something special in your stockings this year, you’ve definitely been ” nice” !

  23. Sammi in UK says:

    Oh wow, i haven’t been on the web site for about a week as i’ve been busy (as we all are) christmas shopping, making and sending cards etc, so i’m snatching a few minutes before i start to put the christmas tree up, and what do you know, there’s some beautiful new pictures of Bai Yun and her gorgeous baby Zhen Zhen and more panda blogs to catch up on!

    So much has happened since i was last on here. I am green with envy all those of you who are lucky enough to be able to go see in person from saturday the new ” precious” cub. I really look forward to reading your blogs with news of your visits.

    If i was able to visit i would consider it an early birthday pressie aswell as my birthday is monday – christmas eve. Happy Birthday for saturday KK.

    Merry Christmas to all at SDZ. staff, animals.

    Merry Christmas to all Bloggers.

    Moderator’s note: Have a happy birthday, Sammi!

  24. Helen Rainier says:

    It’s so hard to believe little Ms. Zhen Zhen is almost 4 1/2 months old already. My, how fast these little darlings grow up. And — she will be an early Holiday Gift for the visitors to the SDZ since she will be going on exhibit very shortly. She is so beautiful and it’s clear she is a very precocious young lady. If the success of Bai Yun in raising Hua Mei, Mei Sheng and Su Lin is an indicator, we will have another beautiful panda female to add to the population of great pandas for the world to enjoy and fall in love with.

    Happy Holidays to all Pandaphiles and all of the animals and staff at SDZ!

  25. Swayze from Arkansas says:

    That little girl is just getting cuter and cuter as the day goes on. I have missed the last few days, during the day and i have been watching the time lapse videos, and it is just so cute to watch the little girl move about her habitate. I am trying to hard to catch it live, i know it will be even better. Seeing that little girl in color is amazing. i loved seeing her in the den growing up but now shes in color and its like a whole new experience.

    Thank you so much for the update. I really wish i could be there Saturday to see the girl on her debute.

    Well early marry christmast to all…i hope the panadas and all of the zoo animals enjoy it.

  26. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Just wanted to wish all our fellow panda-holics, the staff at the Zoo and the pandas themselves a very merry Christmas!! I hope everyone has a safe, joy filled holiday!

    Moderator’s note: Thank you, Kathi. We have a lot of reasons to celebrate this year!

  27. Margaret says:

    Congratulations San Diego! What a wonderful Christmas present to have Miss Precious ” Zhen Zhen” make her public debut in time for all the holiday visitors to the zoo! Especially after all the stress, devastation, and tension caused by the October fires. ENJOY!!!!

    Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

  28. Kris says:

    OMG!!!! Do my eyes deceive me..? I can see what appears to be a little fluffy butt WAY HIGH up in a tree…? She can not POSSIBLY have progressed that far since yesterday, can she…? :O I am scared for her! Will she fall? Will she be able to get down? Bai is munching away obliviously…

    Moderator..? Is it her..?

    Yep, that’s her!

  29. Margot says:

    Is that Zhen Zhen way up in the a tree already?! And Bai Yun looks so relaxed.

  30. Diana says:

    Zhen is oh so high!! How did she do it–wow, what a go-getter. And Mom doesn’t seem to be concerned one bit. This must be a record in terms of her cubs starting to climb. Or perhaps Bai Yun is breaking the record by letting her newest cub climb so high at such a young age. How can I stop watching now?!?!?

  31. Belle says:

    Oh boy, did she get up there all by herself? I wish I saw that!

  32. Marie says:

    I can’t believe my eyes!!

  33. Widget says:

    Oh My!! Is that Miss Z up a tree? I missed the going up, but I hope to see the coming down!! And there is Mommy who just keeps eating!! What fun these 2 are!!

  34. Cindy in East Lansing says:

    What an amazing little girl! I wondered the same thing as Kris and Margot. She is the Amazing Miss Zoom-Zoom.

  35. Darlene says:

    #29 Margot, I’m think it is Zhen up that tree. I logged on to see Bai chowing down on Bambo thinking Zehn will wander out from under the pile of bambo, only to look up and see the little girl up the tree!!! Yikes, I’m not ready for that yet…

    Her Mom sure does look relaxed doesn’t she? She is one good Momma Panda.. She is so experienced and knows her little ones are just fine, I think we will all worry though. ha ha ha…

  36. joan says:

    and what do my wondering eyes see

    but lil ms. zhen zhen high up a tree!

    i am absolutely awestruck.

    apparently, bai is not.

    nervously yours,


  37. Rose N. says:

    Zhen Zhen, what a feat!

    Now I know we have a panda prodigy at the San Diego Zoo.

    Moderator – Is this the first of Bai Yun’s cubs to reach the top of a climbing structure at such an early age? Also, I’m amazed that Bai allowed Zhen to climb so high. Is it because Bai Yun has complete confidence in her cub?

  38. Kris says:

    Is there any video of her climbing? I am pretty sure we were watching Gao enjoy his breakfast while Zhen was climbing to great heights… Could someone please tell her not to grow up so fast..?? 🙁

  39. Louise says:

    I checked the time-lapse but unfortunately the camera wasn’t on Miss Zoom Zoom when she got up in that tree. I hope it will be focused on her when she tries to get back down! (Mom will probably help, don’t you think?)

  40. Cindy in East Lansing says:

    Hmm.. maybe she’s planning on joining Santa’s reindeer for Christmas and wants to practice her launches and landings… Or maybe, just maybe, she’s got aspirations of superherodom. Get that girl a cape!

    She should be in fine form for her debut this weekend. I wish I could be there instead of cold, snowy Michigan. Best holiday wishes to my fellow pandaholics, all SDZ staff and animals, especially those marvelous pandas.

  41. Margot says:

    ZZ is trying to get down and Bai Yun is sleeping! I’m more nervous watching the cub than I was watching my own children.

  42. Marie says:

    I cannot believe how big Su Lin has gotten!! She is just a beautiful panda bear!!

  43. Kris says:

    Okay, you’ve changed the cam! We’ve watched Gao and Su Lin and now we are back to a sleeping (and dirty, I might add) Gao Gao again! I am chewing my nails! I am waiting with bated breath! What is happening? I hope she didn’t fall. I am sure you changed the cam cuz so many of us expressed our concern and nervousness. It is like watching a thriller on TV and the power goes out. You are dying to know what happened next!

  44. Maureen in Michigan says:

    How on earth did Miss Zoom get so high up in that tree – when I first looked I thought it was SuLin-then checked the blogs to see everyone as amazed as I am. And Bai seemed unconcened about the whole thing. Doesn’t Bai know we’re all gasping & going ” don’t fall, how is she going to get down” . To those that plan on seeing her on exhbit Sat. will probably have to look up!!!! And we thought Tai as a terror – I think Zhen is going to be worse.

  45. Cheryl says:

    Oh my gosh… great camera work this morning. All of the pandas were out and enjoying the damp cool weather in their own special way. Zhen Zhen was up in the climbing structure – wiggling around – trying to find a comfy place to nap (I think…) and not having much luck at all, big mama was snoozing below – not a care in the world – not even with baby high off the ground, big sis was up in a tree – napping – in some pretty thin branches, and big daddy Gao Gao was rolling around in the dirt – and ended up pretty darn dirty. Looks like the family is getting into the holiday/winter vacation mood – and loving the cooler, damp weather here in SD. Happy Holidays to my favorite panda family – and to all of my extended panda fanatics – hope everyone is safe and happy!

  46. Bobbie Wood says:

    Wow! We had High Drama on camera C-28 this morning!!! Did anyone see Zhen climb up? How long did it take her? Did anyone see Zhen climb down? Great camera work!!! The zooming in and out gave grand perspective. Also, the panning over to Bai as she slept while ‘Miss Wiggles’ was busy figuring out what to do next 🙂 Had Lun Lun from Atlanta been in SDZ, she would have had a fit 🙂

    What fun to see Gao Gao rolling in the mud! And seeing Su Lin climb into her tree for a nap. San Diego must have had light rain (for those of you in the rest of the world, the term light rain in southern California is described as ‘mist’ everywhere else 🙂 )

    What FUN!!!

  47. Ellie says:

    While I haven’t seen her ” high” in the trees or climbing structures, she is developing quickly. Keepers have also placed some small ” platforms” on the climbing structures to give Zhen places to perch as she makes her way upward.

    And for all of you expressing excitement at her climbing ability, remember that the sooner she gets up to the top of the trees, the sooner she’s going to stay up there — not an ideal situation for perfect viewing, but proper cub behavior nonetheless.

  48. Kathi in Dallas says:

    Darn, I missed the big climb of the day! I can’t believe she’s already experimenting with heights so soon!! Bai is so funny, as long as she’s got bamboo, she doesn’t care about what else is going on around her! 🙂

  49. Holly in NY says:

    Lil ZZ was way up high in a twee?? Oh, drat this job thing, I missed it! Can’t wait to get home to check the groups – I’m sure there will be lots of screen caps to see. It never ceases to amaze me when these little ones climb so high. It’s like they were born climbing machines! I guess that’s not too far off of a description, is it? Did she make it back down safely yet? I’m sure she will come down when she gets hungry, that’s for sure.

  50. Ruby says:

    In almost every blog written by an animal keeper the same words tend to be used when describing a male, ” playful” , ” energetic” , etc. When describing females the words ” intelligent” , ” thoughtful” are frequently used. I’m not saying that females are more intelligent, but….. Well, one thing I have observed is females in the animal kingdom enjoy an equality that we as humans do not. They may be smaller and not as strong as the males, but it seems to me they set the pace of the relationship.

  51. Frances in NY says:

    I also can’t believe she got her little fluffy butt up there so fast–in that last video from the 13th (my birthday–what a great present that was!) she was falling off logs on the ground! I’m also curious if she climbed down or–horrors–fell? If I were one of her keepers, I think I’d be running around below her with nets and pillows.

    Keep those cameras on our little Precious–we don’t want to miss a minute.

    Happy Holidays, all!

  52. Mary from SF says:

    Oh, my, I wish I didn’t have a job. I missed all the adventures, but I see the little one a-sleepin’ in the den this afternoon, so I guess she got her little self down somehow.

    Or did someone have to climb the tree and fetch her?

  53. KK West says:

    I peeked in from work today, and saw this chubby round ” behind” (didn’t know if I could say ” butt” here) at the top of a limb! I zoomed my browser to 200% and said…OH MY GOSH!!! It IS her!!! Little Miss Z is up IN THE TREE! I could not believe my eyes! Someone commented that Lun Lun (ZA) would have been pulling that cub DOWN. I guess Bai’s experience is showing here…but that DID seem awfully high up…so SOON! I was pleased later to see Miss Z sleeping safely on terra firma. 🙂

    …sigh…they grow up so FAST!

    And happy birthday to you too, Sammi!

    And to all of you PandaFans here and everywhere, and to the keepers, staff, and precious creatures (including the moderators) 😉 at the SDZ, best wishes for a happy holiday season.

  54. Helene says:

    WOW! What a lovely trip through the zoo. I went there FOR THE FIRST TIME after seeing in the newspaper that Zhen Zhen would make her debut tomorrow outdoors. I wanted to send the Zhen Zhen news to my darling Niece, Rebecca Mei, another beautiful little girt from China! who will turn 6 next month. I want to bring her to California to go to the San Diego Zoo; and then for everyone to go to . . . China!

    Lovely! Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see Zhen Zhen out in the open.

  55. Katy in SD says:

    How did she get down? Did Mom come up and rescue her? I kept waiting to see, but had to leave for an appointment. What a little tomboy she is, certainly not a girly girl. But certainly Precious.

  56. Maureen in Michigan says:

    #50 Ruby – you are right about females (or at least the panda females) setting the pace of the relationship. If you watch Tian & Mei Xiang (NZ) , Tian seems to want to play more but when Mei has had enough or is not in the mood she gives him a GOOD SWAT & HE BACKS OFF.

    I did go back today & check on what Tia Shan was doing at the same age as Miss Z. While they seemed to start walking around the same age, Miss Z seemed to have taken off to explore faster. But that may have to do Bai’s laid back attitude. Everytime the NZ staff moved Tai outside the den to try & prepare him for being on exhibit mommy dragged him back to safety while Bai is calm about the whole thing. It was hard to compare the climbing as the NZ has a rock structure in their indoor exhibit that Tai would climb up when mommy was away. I remember one day seeing him about a foot off the ground trying to get back down when he fell & landed on his head – but was right back up again. And poor Lani at ZA, everytime she got 2 inches off the ground on the climbing structure LunLun dragged her off. It seems to me that Tai didn’t climb a tree until Jan. & then the staff out tree guards around the bottoms of the taller trees to help protect him but like all pandas once they figure out how to climb they are on the way. Bai sure is laid back about this whole thing-been there, seen that, cubs have done that. So away our cubbie zooms.

  57. Paula says:

    I just checked out the ” time-lapse video” for today and yesterday…and WOW – she did get WAY up in that tree! How on earth! Zhen Zhen, you’re a peach!

    I bet she’ll be a precious sight to see at her debut this weekend.

    Paula in TX

  58. Candy in Iowa says:

    Heavens!!! I watch the time lapse today and OMG there is little Zhen WAY up on the climbing structure!!! I thought I was seeing things at first. Bai certainly was relaxed about it. Just a few days ago she was carefully waddling around and now climbing way up overhead. It’s been awhile, but I do not ever remember a cub climbing that high at such a young age. I do think that Bai may have given birth to a real feisty little fur ball. Zoom Zoom fits her more every day!

  59. susan lomastro says:

    Someone PLEASE tell us how she got down!!!! The cameras were on the other bears!

  60. Joy in KS says:

    Again I have to chuckle at everyone’s comments. We humans are so silly sometimes, fixating on the animals we can see, and forgetting about the hundreds in the wild. Baby pandas are supposed to climb trees and stay there while their moms look for food. Nobody worries about the ones not in zoos, falling from their arboreal perches. (Except possibly Lun Lun! One wonders what she was like as a cub.) I used to climb trees when I was a child, and my mom resembled Lun Lun, always trying to get me to come down. It always irritated me that she didn’t trust me. On behalf of Zhun, I will say, ” I like being up high in trees. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be careful!” Sure she’s still wobbly, but she’s definitely not stupid. 🙂 Bai Yun knows that.

  61. Maureen in Michigan says:

    #18 KK – Regarding weaning cubs in captivity. From what I’ve read the US zoos try to use the same method as wild panda mothers. In the wild when the cubs is about 18 months old & eating enough bamboo to live on its own one day the mother wanders far enough away so her cub can’t find her – seems heartless I know but in order for them both to have a chance at survival (as Mom & cub are now competing for the same bamboo supply), it’s a fact of life for them. Captive panda moms have the same instincts so as their cubs approach 18 months, they start pushing their cubs away when they try to nurse. As our zoos have the ability to manage the pandas they have the cub spend a few hours alone for a few days until they feel the time is right for the cub to be on its own. By this time mom knows her job is done & she wants nothing to do with her cub. Mei Sheng was very upset when weaned, Tai cried a bit but soon went on his solitary way. I missed Su Lin but I bet Lani will be fine also as Lun Lun is showing signs that she’s ready. It’s hard for us humans to understand how a mom can just push her cub away to fend for itself – but life in the wild is not easy & pandas seems to have harder time than most trying to survive.

    So we all need enjoy the antics of Miss tree climbing zoom while we can.

  62. Peggy says:

    Thank you for the update. I love the photo too. It would be great to have that one of daughter and mom offered for wallpaper online. ZZ is so much fun to watch. She seems confident in her walking on ground and then she tries to balance on the log and tips over. Never put off though and she just seems to be having fun whether falling off logs or trying to get mom’s attention. She is a handful alright.

  63. AC in NYC says:

    Baby ZZ high up on the tree? That worries me.

    Zhen’s last video (Ded 13) is unbearably cute. After watching it many times, it still gives me the thrill. I guess when cuteness reached to ” beyond believe” level, it will never wears out. I will do anything to hug her.

  64. Margaret says:

    The Pandas International email Christmas Card I received today is adorable, with all 16 cubs born this year. A man that I think may be Scott is holding one cub in the middle front row, like it is waving. I wonder if it is Hua Mei’s cub that Lisa photographed? In the middle back row there is another man that I recognize from some of Mei Sheng’s arrival pictures, and he is holding a very young cub. I wonder if it is the one that the dam was carrying in her arm while she walked on three legs so Wu and Lisa could clean out their den.

    It is an amazing picture, and although there were fewer cubs born in 2007 than 2006, they all look very healthy, happy, well fed and well cared for. The keepers obviously love them and are taking world class care of them. Hua Mei has thrived in their care, and Mei Sheng has received first class treatment too. Once he gets accustomed to his new home, he will likely also thrive. May 2008 bring him ” Miss Right” and happiness with his lady, like his papa has with Bai Yun.

  65. Marie says:

    How did our little one get down? I was very worried that she would not be able to come down on her own. That she would be stuck up there and very distressed. Did the keepers have to help her?

  66. Silvertip says:

    I just want to send a heart warmed Very MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE at the SDZ, you take wonderful care of all the precious babies there. It has brought me so much joy and pleasure to see the wonderful work you all do. My daughter works for an Animal Hospital and she will be working the holidays and well as all the keepers. Thank from the bototm of my familys heart for your time and devotion so that we may enjoy the outcome all over the world.


  67. Marie says:

    Good Heavens!! Where is she now? I see a house behind her but it looks like she is up very high again??? I’m amazed that her mother is not stopping her from these high climbs.

  68. Margaret says:

    Are my eyes deceiving me, or are both mom and cub up on the climbing structure, on opposite sides, sound asleep? It looks like Zhen is over by the tree, and Bai is on the right side. Maybe she can keep her eye on Zhen better up there, and is helping Zhen feel comfortable sleeping up there before their public debut tomorrow. So much for 9-11 AM. It is almost 12 noon PST and they are still outside together.

  69. Barb in Surrey, BC says:

    I turned on my computer this morning and WHO is on national news but little miss ZZ, making her very first public appearance. She has turned into such a lovely toddler that she takes my breath away. To think I spent all these years as an accountant when I could have been nurturing panda babies…..what an awesome job (yes, I have a dog and I KNOW there is some scooping involved)!!!

    Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas with lots of warm sunshine…it is snowing here in BC, a lovely present for our holidays. Holiday Hugs to Bai and our angel, Fluffybutt. I will be watching (as usual)!!

  70. Marcia M from PA says:

    Is anyone else here struck by how beautiful our baby girl’s eyes are?? I know all pandas have adorable eyes, but for some reason, ZZ’s eyes seem to just be extra gorgeous. It’s the shape of them and the placement of the black patches and how wide they always seem to be. I just think her eyes are amazing.

  71. KK West says:

    Maureen #61 Thank you for the excellent explanation. I apologize for my late response (holidays and all). I do appreciate the response, though, being human (according to some) I guess I can’t understand the solitary nature of the panda, although the competing for food supply made it more clear to me.

    Thank you again, Maureen!