Reaching New Heights

Posted at 12:51 pm December 21, 2007 by Suzanne Hall

 Zhen 12-21-07Little Zhen Zhen showed real initiative yesterday. While in the classroom exhibit with her mother, she climbed up several structures to a height she had not achieved before. About eight feet off the ground in a climbing structure, Zhen spent a few minutes looking about from her new perch before settling down for a nap.

Bai Yun, though nonchalant, knew her baby was climbing. When Zhen first climbed up Bai Yun was already up in the structure. As Zhen neared the top, Bai Yun decided she was ready to climb down. Momma passed by her youngster on the way, and bumped her enough to send her unceremoniously tumbling to the ground. No matter. Zhen shook it off and began climbing again. This time, she clearly wasn’t trying to get near her mother, as Bai Yun was now happily ensconced on the ground enjoying bamboo. She just wanted up!

This is a natural tendency for a cub this age. In the wild, momma panda will frequently leave a cub of this age while she forages for bamboo. Cubs can’t keep up with momma’s quicker pace, so they remain behind. To protect themselves from dangers, the youngsters will quickly learn to climb high up in trees to make themselves a hard target for would-be predators. When momma returns as much as a day later, cub and dam are reunited for nursing and grooming bouts.

Do not be concerned about the occasional spills Zhen will take as she garners increasing climbing proficiency. She is bound to tumble from the trees now and then, especially over the next few weeks. Somehow the panda is built to take this kind of punishment. I have witnessed young bears in Wolong fall pell-mell from a tall pine tree, approaching 40 feet above ground, and still get up and run off unharmed. Zhen will be okay despite these little life lessons.

Even so, the keepers have worked hard to prepare her area for her increased safety. The ground below trees and climbing structures has been cleared of any protruding sticks or obstacles she might fall upon. Climbing platforms have been installed in a few places to help her hang on with more success. Just this morning a small hammock-like structure was installed on the climbing structure in the hopes of enticing her into a cozy and easy-to-maintain resting spot. And staff eyes are frequently checking on her to ensure that she is doing fine.

Zhen has impressed everybody here with her bold attitude and easy going temperament. Keepers tell me she has taken to stalking them in the morning, ready to attack their boots with a flying leap from a door frame or low branch. This little bear is anxious to demonstrate that she has graduated from the denned-up baby of the past few months to a bear with a mind of her own. She’s getting to be a big girl, and we celebrate her climbing achievements as evidence of her health and well-being. Go get ’em, Zhen!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician with the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Unit.

Note: New images are now posted in the Panda Photo Gallery.

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85 Responses to “Reaching New Heights”

  1. elle says:

    Thanks for the update! I love hearing about how our little Zhen is growing and developing. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her way up in the climbing structure. After 4 cubs, it appears that Bai understands that Zhen needs to climb and to not be nervous about it. I remember watching Lun Lun and Mei Xiang pull Mei Lan and Tai Shan down off of tree trunks and branches. Did Bai do this with Hua Mei?

    Happy Holidays, Suzanne and all of the panda team and lots of wonderful wishes for a peaceful New Year to my fellow pandaholics!

    Elle in San Jose

  2. Grace says:

    Aww!!! How adorable is Zhen Zhen!!! I just saw the newly posted pictures of our cub, and she is as rambunctious as her older siblings! You go girl!

  3. Joy :) says:

    Maybe Zhen is confused and thinks she is a circus performer!

    I wonder if pandas can see clearly from up high in the trees, that is a long visual range for an animal whose vision is not its key sense. Maybe it’s all just a big blurr to them.

    I remember this summer I was visiting San Diego and I went up in the hot air balloon trek at WAP, it’s way up high. You could see for MANY miles and I was a bit nervous holding on to the ropes.

    Maybe instead of seeing, pandas can sniff far away if they get up high where the wind is blowing.

    Well, Zhen is definitely fun to watch! Who needs the circus when you can see her performing daring feats on the acrobatic high-wire and watch her swing on the trapeeze?!! And hopefully she won’t dive down to the ground too much without a net, or Bai Yun there to cradle her.

    Go ZHEN, GO!!! We’re watching!

    Love, Joy 🙂

  4. Teresa says:

    Thank you for providing so many more pictures of Zhen Zhen the last few days. They are wonderful. She is too Zhen Zhen.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Well, I guess all of us ” amateur” panda experts had a feeling that our little Zhen Zhen was gonna be something special – from the moment she was born – just something about that little bundle – and how rapidly she seemed to mature – guess we were right. Look at her go – there’s no stopping her now. I still can’t believe how big she is – I swear – I’ve seen her every single day of her life via the Panda Cam – but I just don’t know how she got to be such a big girl. Kinda sad though… hard not to think ahead to the day she is weened from big mama – but I know that’s a long way off – and we have lots of fun times ahead. Very excited about her big debut tomorrow – she’s going to make a lot of holiday visitors to SD awfully happy. Think I will wait until the crowds die down a bit and see her sometime in January. Who knows what she will be up to by then – little miss smarty pants – she will probably be doing backward flips off of the tallest limbs by then – can’t wait!

  6. Kris says:

    Thank you, Suzanne for your reassuring comments. It is hard to imagine that a small cub like Zhen can fall from such a height and not sustain any injury. I remember a post on the Zoo Atlanta website – baby panda’s are indestructable! Seems to be so. Fortunate for us ” nervous nellie’s” that are watching. Guess we should take a page out of Bai’s book and chill out! Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂

  7. Mary from SF says:

    Thanks for the info on the climbing! She sure went from 0-to-60 in no time. The new pictures are wonderful, too.

    It will be great fun to watch her adventures in the coming months.

  8. Julie from NJ says:

    Thanks, Suzanne, for filling those of us in who were not witness to Miss ZZ’s first great ascension, and subsequent tumble back to terra firma…! She reminds me very much of her cousin Tai Shan, and I think both Bai & the keepers will be enjoying her antics for many months; she’s so adorable I can barely stand it…! Oh, if only I could be a keeper for a day and have her attack my boots……..sigh! The latest photos are just charming; please keep them coming…!

    Merry Christmas, pandaholics everywhere…!

  9. Margaret says:

    Happy Holidays, to you too Suzanne. Thanks for the update. Zoom Zoom is definitely a great nickname for this girl. She may be meeting her sister up in the trees for some ” girl talk,” sooner than we can blink. It will be fun to watch. She is definitely one alert determined panda cub, and her mother is quite content with that. Good thing Lun Lun isn’t around, eh?

  10. Deborah says:

    How far will a mother go and leave her baby in the wild to search for bamboo? Are any mothers in the wild collared for research purposes?

  11. Maureen in Michigan says:

    CNN had 2 stories about Miss Z today – one was a photo of her playing with a ball & then the other was after she’d fallen off a tree limb onto her head. Panda cubs must be like rubber balls – they fall on their heads & bounce right up to try it again. No fear of falling. Too cute. As she’s been out for days now, hope the public enjoys her debut.

    Merry Christmas to all the panda lovers & the wonderful staff. May Santa leave all the pandas an extra biscuit.

  12. Bobbie Wood says:

    Dear Suzanne,

    Thank you for ending the ‘suspense’ of the Big Climbing Day! Bai bumped Zhen. Oh Goodness! Of all the scenarios we pandaholics envisioned yesterday, bumping baby off was not one of them 🙂 Bai does know what is best, doesn’t she. If one bumps, baby will Zoom back up! I suspect we will see many free-falls in the future! Thank you so very much for the update! To all pandaholics, may your dreams be merry and bright and may you see flying pandas in them. What Fun!

  13. Peggy says:

    OH boy she is having fun climbing in the trees good for her, bad for us once she learns to climb it is hard to see this precious little one just like she sisters and brother. I can’t wait to see her tomorrow morning I am so looking forward to her debute. I know she is having fun exploring and learning everyday. Thanks for the update Suzanne it is great that you take the time to let us know what is going on with the Pandas.

  14. Catbelly says:

    Be still my heart – 8 feet off the ground! Such is life for a panda cub. Pandas always remind me of Bumbles – pandas bounce!

    The happiest and healthiest of holidays to the staff of SDZ, and panda watchers everywhere!

  15. Frances in NY says:

    The new photos are fantastic and thanks for the reassurance that Miss ZZ will not suffer from the occasional tumble. I agree with #12 Bobbie that my first suspicion wouldn’t have pointed at Bai Yun pushing her off the limb–but I guess that’s part of growing up Panda. As everyone has said, I think she’s one special, adventurous little panda girl–I think the fun has just begun. Now why why why is panda cam so dark? No pandas until morning?

  16. Bernice says:

    My oh my is she a ball of energy…I’m head over heels for this sweet and precocious little girl. 🙂 Thanks for the detailed update and adorable photos!!

  17. Marcia M from PA says:

    Yesterday I tuned into PandaCam and saw a panda sitting calmly, eating bamboo contentedly. I checked to see which panda it was and saw that it was Bai Yun. But then I looked again and saw a panda up in a tree and thought, ” Oh, that CAN’T be our baby way up in that tree. BUt if Bai Yun is sitting on the ground, which panda is it?” I was AMAZED to find out that yes, it really was Baby ZZ. What a little spitfire she is!! She is indomitable at such a young age. That spunky little thing is going to be such fun.

    Thanks for all the great updates in the past few days. They are truly day-brighteners.

    Merry Christmas, everyone! A special HOHOHO to our sweet pandas!

  18. Colleen--Michigan says:

    What a little dynamo Zhen is!! She seems a little while ahead of Mei Lan… with her climbing, and getting on her mom’s back, at only 4 months. I’d love to be a keeper as well, and let her attack my boots, and look me in the eye. She looks soooo precious!

  19. Ling says:

    Hello Pam and fellow pandaholics, want to see the baby ‘Panda Claws’ interns trained by Mei Sheng? Check on youtube ‘pandas international christmas’.

    Merry Zoomie Christmas to all.

  20. Frances in NY says:

    OK now I kind of see Su Lin having a moonlight snack. I do miss seeing Bai Yun and ZZ sleeping and snuggling. Hope the little one is getting her beauty sleep for her big debut tomorrow.

  21. Widget says:

    I can’t watch Zhen Zhen play, Bai Yun eat, Gao Gao sleep, and SuLin climb if I watch CNN for a story on Zhen Zhen. What a dilemma!! I think I’ll just keep sitting at the computer. Watching Zhen Zhen, no matter where she is…whether its in her den playing with her feet, sucking on bamboo, or climbing a tree, she is the best entertainment around. I find myself talking to Zhen and laughing out loud at her antics. I wish I could just put my hand in and tickle her belly. I want to wish everyone, Lisa,Suzanne, keepers, moderators,and my fellow pandaholics..hi my name is Linda and I’m a pandaholic…a Merry and Bright Holiday Season and the Best of New Years!

  22. Lisa Anderson says:

    Oh my, Zhen is toooooooo adorable! Such a feisty lil gal, with an adventurous streak a mile wide.

    Thanks for reminding us pandaholics that when cubs fall, they are generally a-okay. I still clearly recall that day in June of 2006 (6-6-06, to be exact; whatta date!), when Tai took a tumble from on high, and how worried we all were for his safety and well-being.

    Of course, the silly boy was fine, but it is a heart-stopping moment watching a beloved cub on panda cam, when they inevitably do fall. Thanks for this news SDZ, and may Zhen’s debut be as wonderful as she is!

  23. Lynda in Michigan says:

    Merry Christmas SDZ staff and especially to Bai, ZZ, Su Lin and Gao Gao. Just looked at the cam and it looks as if mom is trying to get Zhen to settle down a better rest little girl. You have a big day ahead of you. Your adoring public is anxiously awaiting your debut!! Oh, how I wish I was there to see this precious little puff ball’s debut!!

    I too add my thanks for the information sharing! This has been my first cub and now I regret having missed the others. But I am certian there will be more to come!! It has been such fiun since August 4th!! I have gotten many co-workers to join me watching this little girl – we all get giddy when watching!

    Have a wonderful christmas everyone – SDZ staff and fellow panda-holics!! It is such fun being part of this!

  24. Rose N. says:

    Hi Panda Fans,

    In today’s San Diego Union Tribune you will enjoy watching a video entitled ” Coming Out Party for Panda Cub” . Google ” Sign on San Diego” . It is narrated by Senior Keeper, Joanne Simerson. Very enjoyable.

    I’m on my way to the world famous San Diego Zoo to enjoy Zhen Zhen and all the other wonderful animals.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  25. Carol says:

    Zhen Zhen is very active this morning, no doubt preparing for her big debut! I don’t remember any of the other cubs spending so much time mouthing bamboo at such an early age — is she ahead of the curve on that or am I just not remembering seeing that behavior in Tai Shan and Mei Lan and Su Lin?

    Wishing you all a huge success on the Big Day! Hopefully, Little Miss Precious will not wear herself out and decide to take a 2-hour nap, starting right at 9 am!!

    Have fun!!

  26. Margot says:

    Rose N.– Thanks for the information on the video narrated by JoAnne Simerson–it was so cute. ZZ is certainly on her way–with a lot of energy and spunk. The paper’s photo gallery had great pictures, too. But it kept referring to our baby as being ” 20-months-old” ! Don’t rush it! We want to savor every moment of this darling girl’s growth.

  27. Jane says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you who give us so much joy by providing a window into this wonderful world. We are so lucky to be able to see and read about the pandas….. J

  28. Paula says:

    Rose #24 – thank you so much for the information about the video – I just watched it, and it was wonderful!!! Front page of ” Sign On San Diego” (google for it). Breathtaking video!


  29. Grace says:

    The LA has an article featuring both mother and daughter Bai Yun and Zhen Zhen! A huge picture of Zhen Zhen was on the front page late last night, but now it has a link to the article on the front page instead. If you follow the link, it shows a large picture of mother-daughter snuggling. Nice introduction to Zhen Zhen’s debut at SDZ!

  30. Mary from SF says:

    Rose #24, Thank you so much for pointing us to the Tribune video. It was great!

  31. Lisa Anderson says:

    Rose, thanks for sharing that video! Zhen is so much fun to watch!

    Wishing a very merry Christmas to all at SDZ, and to all my fellow pandaholics here on this blog.

  32. Mary says:

    #17 Marcia, that is the EXACT SAME thought process I went through yesterday when I logged in to Panda Cam!!! I was in shock! Then I checked the panda blog, and found that Miss ZZ had done it the day before too and shocked everyone! Wow, what a Christmas treat for all of us! I’m planning a visit with my family for after the holidays to see our new little girl in person. Merry Christmas everyone!

  33. Lisa B says:

    I am confused about how to pronounce Zhen Zhen’s name after listening to the narrator on the ” Sign on San Diego” video clip. I thought the name is pronounced Jun Jun (rhymes with fun fun). The narrrator called her Jen Jen (rhymes with pen pen). Help!!!

  34. Pat says:

    I adore Pandas, and saw the article in our local paper (Tasmania). Many years ago I had the privilege of going with a Fellow of the Zoological Society at Regents Park Zoo (London) and was able to touch the panda that was there then called Ming. Keep up the good work, they deserve to be bred, they are so lovely.

  35. cubba says:

    Thanks for the Zhen Zhen update. This playful and confident cub seems to have no fear. I wish I could be there in person to see her debut!

  36. M. Decker says:

    I just want to say that the photograph of Bai Yun and Zhen Zhen in today’s (Saturday, 12/22/07) Los Angeles Times is an award winner if ever there was one. I think Denis Poroy has captured the essence of motherhood.

  37. Susan Kazula says:

    Wow! Didn’t she ” zoom zoom” round on her debut. And sooo-ooo cute asleep in the tree with mum.

  38. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Thanks to the SanDiego Union for adorable pictures & a short video of Miss Z on her Big Day. Will be waiting to hear from those that were there to find out how adorable she was.

  39. Paula says:

    #33 – I’ve been saying zzzhen zzzhen but I believe it’s pronounced jun jun (fun fun). Let’s just all agree on Zoom Zoom! I agree it’s a difficult name to grasp.

    maybe Z Z ?? or, Precious Panda (P P)

    She’s a lovely piece of work, all right! A wonderful sight to behold as we move into the coming year.

    Peace, and thanks to the SD Zoo contributors and especially those who take care of these pandas, and all other creatures at the Zoo.


  40. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Miss Z is becoming quite the media star – another story & video of her tonight on CNN. Too cute does not describe her. The voting public picked the perfect name – Precious she sure is.

  41. Cathy G. (LA) says:

    Zhen Zhen is so independent! We’re all going to enjoy seeing her grow and develop, but it all happens tooooo fast!!! 😆 I want to savor this time with her as she learns so many new things.

    Have a wonderful holiday season Suzanne and all of the super SDZ staff. You do so much to make the pandas feel comfortable and to ensure their good health and well-being. Thanks from YOUR fans!!!!

  42. Maureen in Michigan says:

    #9 Margaret -You’re right about LunLun. If Lani was like Miss Z, Lun would be a basket case. Seemed like poor Lani couldn’t get more than 2 inches off the ground before mommy was dragging her off. I wonder why she was so ultra protective -especially as Lani always landed on her head when Lun dragged her off.

  43. Carol in Austin says:

    #33 Lisa B. – I’m a little confused, too – but I think it’s similar to the pronunciation of the second syllable of ” engine” . Depending on where you live in the US and what kind of regional accent you have, it could sound like ” jin” ” jen” or ” jun” . I am just guessing, but I think Zhen Zhen is a cross between ” jen” and ” jun” – not too much ” eh” as in jen and not too much ” uh” as in jun. Let’s hope someone who knows what they are talking about can enlighten us – I am just guessing. But then again, maybe Zhen Zhen is pronounced zoom zoom 😉

  44. barbara says:

    as I was out yesterday doing my laundry I was watching the large screen T.V. and who is prancing around, Miss Precious herself. MSNBC did her coming out story, boy did she score big with the washing machine crowd. She is off the cute meter. This little girl is going to be something.

  45. barbara says:

    Merry Christmas to all and Peace, Love and Joy this holiday season

  46. Hazel says:

    It is am. on Christmas Eve and Little Miss ZeeZee is displaying her climbing prowess on C29/C28….what an active bundle of trouble Bai will have to contend with on Christmas Day, with little time to enjoy her Christmas Day meal of ‘Bamboo’ and other special items of ‘enrichment’.

    I wonder what gifts Santa will have for ZoomZoom to investigate if she decides to remain at ground level and not decide on a Christmas Day ‘Walk About’ in the trees or other, she is certainly great PR for SandiegoZoo, especially at Christmas time.

    Bai and ZeeZee are enjoying playing in the ’empty pool’ on C28, each of Bai’s previous cubs also have enjoyed playing in the same area with their mom, Mei Sheng commenced his precarious ‘high wire’ branch walks from around that point, it is possible that ZeeZee will follow in her adventurous brothers footsteps.

    Mei Sheng also enjoyed playing with Bai in the ‘shelter’ on C28/29 – often when it was time for them to go inside Sheng’s keeper had to walk to the ‘shelter’ to retrieve him and carry him back inside……happy days

    I am certain many more pandaholics will also remember those days.

    I note quite a few similarities developing with ZeeZee and her older siblings – with her high level of activity she may well develop into a ‘ball player’ like big ‘half sister’ Hua Mei who always enjoyed rolling a large ball.

    To all the hard working staff at SDZ and to fellow ‘Pandaholics’ – Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas and New Year.

    If you find time during this busy period keep your eyes on Little Miss ZeeZee because she is now operating on full throttle!

  47. Helen Rainier says:

    Well, I suspect that all the pandas in the US zoos are getting rested up for their trip to the DC party for the arrival of Panda Claws aka Mei Sheng. Last time I checked the NORAD Panda tracking site (almost 45 minutes ago at 1149 am) Panda Claws was with Santa Claus and they had just made their trip over Greece.

    I hope all the pandas have a GREAT time at the party tonight! I hear the Bamboo Buffet will be fabulous with an assortment of relishes and lots of wonderful Boo Sauces — teriyaki, sweet-n-sour, Chipotle BBQ and Boo Salsa both ” smooth” and chunky style!

  48. Margaret says:

    Helen Rainier-you’ve got their number alright. I can just picture the feast, with the males chowing down, and the mommas comparing notes. What fun Mei Sheng would have being Panda Claws. And, what special whispered secrets for Zee Zee and her cub friends. Lani and Su will have a great time with baby Zhen Zhen while Tai will be chatting with Mei Sheng about his adventurous trip to Wolong. Maybe it will start Tai’s imagination going about his trip in 19 months or so.

    Mewry Cwristmas to all and to all a Good Panda Night!

  49. Margot says:

    Merry Christmas to all the wonderful people at SDZ who care so lovingly for the precious pandas. And hope all the bears will have a very satisfying visit from Panda Claws.

  50. Carol says:

    I’ve been so busy, I didn’t have time to read Pamela G’s wonderful Panda Claws poem until this evening. Pamela, you are amazing, that was really special. And I’m actually glad I waited until Christmas Eve to read it, it was perfect!

    Bai has finally got little ZZ to sleep. It was pretty crazy for a while. Bai trying to sleep and Zhen just absolutely tormenting her, wanting to play. Bai actually pushed her right out of the den a couple of times, but our Zhen is nothing if not persistent! But now it’s just Mama and Baibee, sleeping sweetly, dreaming of sugarplums!

    God bless us, everyone!

  51. Frances in NY says:

    Wonderful videos and BY and ZZ have been wrestling and nursing and snuggling in the den this Christmas Eve for the benefit of all the pandaholics–what a lovely early Christmas present!

    Happy holidays to pandas, keepers, and panda watchers everywhere!

  52. Maureen in Michigan says:

    When does Miss Z sleep – I saw her wandering all over the exhibit today & now I’ve been watching her play with Bai for over an hour now (1:30am EST) & now she’s playing with her feet. She is a zoomer for sure.

  53. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! Wishing all of the SDZ/WAP keepers and staff, and all the animals a very good Christmas holiday, especially Zhen Zhen! Hope all of you get some much deserved rest with your families!

    Lots of love yas,

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  54. AC in NYC says:

    Thank you Suzanne for the updates. Pandas always bring smile on me and make me laugh, so cute and adorable, especially baby Zhen. Zhen is extremely precious and I cherish very much. Thank you SDZ staff for taking care of her and the pandas.

    Happy holiday to all animal lovers and have a great 2008.

  55. Paula says:

    Merry Christmas, All! Best wishes to little Zhen on her first Christmas. If you’re like me, you are very strapped fpr cash..but now is the time to make a final 2007 donation to the critters of the San Diego Zoo. Skip that last family meal out and instead contribute to a worthy cause:

    Tell your kiddos it’s the time to GIVE and let them choose a gift for the Zoo.



  56. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    I see Miss ZZ finally made it out today. Panda Claws must have worn her right out!

    I’m curious – I can’t picture where the outdoor classroom is. I have been to the zoo as recently as this past July – I remember the 2 areas where Gao Gao and Su Lin are currently…but I do not remember any other ” public” areas….can you tell us where this area is in relation to these 2 areas? Thanks!

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Blessings to you all for 2008!

    Moderator’s note: The ” classroom exhibit” is just around the corner from the regular exhibits, located behind the Panda Discovery Station. Hope this helps!

  57. barbara says:

    Paula#55 I heard through a very reliable source that there was alot of loud noises coming from the zoo and wild animal park on Christmas morning.There was tail wagging, lion roaring, bleats and barks coming from all the dens and boy what a party that must have been. This is all thanks to our Blogger friends even though everybody got a little something we always could use a little more. I do THANK each and everyone who gave whatever you could to this worthy cause. I wish you all Peace, Love and Joy this holiday season.

  58. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Moderator – thanks for telling us where the classroom area is – when we were there all we saw were the two large areas for Bai & baby SuLin (who as usual was up in her tree) & papa Gao.

  59. Lynda Lansing,Michigan says:

    Thank you moderator! Now I’m mad! I missed this part when I was at the Zoo!! Oh, well. I certainly have something to look forward to for my next visit……always good to have that.

    Thanks again!!

  60. Kris says:

    Maureen & Lynda (#56 & 58)

    I believe the classroom area is not always open to the public. We visited the zoo last May and got to see Mei Sheng and Bai Yun, who were out in the exhibit areas. On our 2nd pass thru the exhibit area, one of the panda hosts mentioned that the classroom area would be open at 1 pm for a short period if we wanted to see Su Lin. Of course, we continued our visit at the zoo and made sure we were back by the appointed time. We had to stand in line to see her and if I am not mistaken, only a limited number of visitors were allowed in. I think the classroom area is used for viewing at the keepers discretion.

    Moderator – correct me if I am wrong.

    Moderator’s note: You are right, Kris. The classroom exhibit is only open to the public during special circumstances, such as the introduction of a panda cub.

  61. Candy from Iowa says:

    I just got to watch ZZ’s video from the Tribune. What a treasure! Every time I watch her, I could just cry she is so PRECIOUS! Like the narrator, Joanne Simerson says, she is SO much fun at this age. I’m so envious of all of you close enough to see her in person. Please whisper ‘Hello” to her and her family for me when visiting!

    Hope all the staff and fellow panda lovers had a wonderful Christmas!

  62. Candy from Iowa says:

    It’s 7:30 p.m. PT and Zhen is WOUND up! Bai is laying in the doorway of the den blocking it and Zhen is just rolling, climbing, flipping, tugging and every other thing imaginable!!

    It’s a good thing Bai is very patient because she has a wild child this time! What a joy to watch!!!

  63. Paula says:

    Barbara #57 – yea to everyone who made this such a wonderful Christmas!

    I know we are all shocked at the news of the tiger killing someone in the San Francisco Zoo. I watched the news and heard a rep of our local Feline Santuary in Boyd, Texas say if perhaps everyone had just remained quiet and calm, perhaps the tragedy would not have occurred. Of course, That’s up for debate (although I personally think it’s correct), but I know we all mourn for the loss of life, and remain ever vigilant in understanding the concept that these are wild animals, brought out of their habitat to live in zoos. It’s just beyond tragic when something of this nature happens. Not only for the relatives of the victims, but also for the big cats, who remain misunderstood and feared.


  64. Claudia says:

    Thank you Rose N for making my Christmas extra special. The video in the Union Tribune is wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Blessings,Claudia

  65. Karen says:

    I don’t care what anybody says, I have my doubts as to whether Gao Gao is the father of Precious ZZ. One has to wonder if Bai wasn’t sneaking over to the Grizzly exhibit at night when no one was looking. Big Baby!! If you look at that picture of her on her mother’s back she almost has the shape of a walrus.

    Poor Gao Gao. Now that Mei Sheng is gone, the hormonal balance at the panda house has really shifted. All those females!!

  66. Marie says:

    Dear Pandaholics and Panda staff,

    I have been watching the pandacam since Mei Sheng was a small cub but, I have been watching from work where I am restricted to certain sites. I have now got my own pc at home and a fast internet connection to reach the sites that I have been trying to get to. Could someone please type the name of the site at Wolong so I can see Mei Sheng (and maybe Hua Mei). Also any other sites where I can see my dear friends again.

    Thank you,

  67. Rose N. says:

    Claudia #64 it makes me feel good to know that Zhen Zhen’s video added to the joy of your Christmas. Thanks for your kind words.

    Much love and happiness in the New Year to ALL panda fans, and also a BIG thank you to ALL the wonderful Panda Keepers for all their hard work.

    Regards, Rose

  68. Frances in NYC says:

    Karen (#65)–she does look kind of like a walrus in that picture–but then again, sometimes she and her mother look like billiard balls when they’re rolled up in the den.

    As I watch our little explorer on camera # 28 this afternoon, it looks as if she could climb up into those tree branches and get over the wall. Somebody please tell me there’s fencing or something I’m not seeing that helps keep them inside?

  69. Maureen in Michigan says:

    We all know why Lani was tired & Yang excited – they spent Christmas Eve at the NZ with all their panda friends & Panda Claws – after reading these updates – makes one wonder -maybe they really were in Washington!!!!

    Wednesday, December 25

    I hope everyone out there had a nice holiday. Although the Zoo was closed to the public on Christmas, the giant pandas had a typical day of eating bamboo and sleeping. Because the pandas need fresh bamboo frequently, a keeper must be here all day to supply food, even if the Zoo is closed. J.T. was here yesterday, and he was hard at work last week making the pandas some new enrichment items for Christmas. Mei Lan must have had a busy day, because she was very sleepy this morning. She was active early in the morning, but once she and Lun Lun were outside, she nursed, ate some bamboo, and then promptly went to sleep. How exhausting it must be to be a giant panda cub!

    Heather Baker Roberts

    Carnivore Keeper I

    Monday, December 24

    I don’t think that Yang can wait until tomorrow – he’s just filled with such excitement that Santa is coming. Mei Lan is just sleeping the morning away while Lun Lun eats, but not Yang. All he wants to do this morning is play. You can tell he’s really excited when he decides to bite his right paw and shake his head. This behavior is one that he has done much of his life when he is happy and in a playful mood. If you watch Mei, you can also see her starting to do much of the same. We will just have to wait and see if Santa brings anything tomorrow, or if he determined that Yang was naughty this year. I know what I think!

  70. Carol says:

    #66 Marie: Just search on ” Wolong Panda Club” and that should take you to the site. Best viewed at night from our time zones, that’s daytime in China. It’s kind of a funny, funky Chinese website, though, so other pandaholics may have some better tips for you. Enjoy your new internet connection!

  71. Hazel says:

    Frances (#68)

    I was also watching Little Miss ZeeZee zooming around the climbing structure on (C28/29) during the Christmas period, yesterday (27th) she did so much exploring that she eventually fell fast asleep in the branch of a tree while Bai sat below calmly munching on her bamboo.

    I have watched the Pandacam since it commenced back in the days of our lovely Hua Mei, I am certain that Suzanne or a Moderator will advise you that the Panda’s are very secure in that area.

    When ZhenZhen can climb as high as her big brother Mei Sheng you would have to then have to search the tree tops!

    Happy New Year to all Staff and pandaholics……

  72. Marie says:

    Carol, #70, Thank you so much for answering me. I didn’t think any one was going to reply. I will try to bring up ” Wolong Panda Club” as soon as I get home.

    Thank you,

  73. Barbara in Midwest says:

    Marie, #72. It’s great fun to be able to see pandas ” live” in Wolong– but don’t expect to see Mei Sheng or Hua Mei. The cams are on the 1 and 2 yr. olds, I believe. It would really be nice to be able to see Mei Sheng, but if any of the cams are on 4 yr. olds, I hope someone lets us know.

  74. Maureen in Michigan says:

    Marie #66 -Marie – if you go to & search for Mei Sheng there are several videos – have fun.

  75. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi, you guys! Hope everybody had a very nice Christmas holiday with your families! We did! Been getting onto the pandacam when I could the last few days to check in on Bai and Zhen. Just got on it tonite at around 7:45pm EST and saw Zhen sound asleep in the den all rolled up into a fuzzy little ball. No sign of Bai; she’s probably out eating her dinner or napping somewhere. In case some of you were wondering why there is some pink on Zhen’s lovely white hair, this is from Bai’s saliva when she picks up her cub with her mouth to move her somewhere. I found out about that when I was reading the updates about Tai Shan in DC when he was at that age a couple of years ago. It’s a weird thing to see, but this will go away as time goes on and Zhen gets too big for mom to pick her up with her mouth any more. Mei Lan in Atlanta had that same pink color on her lovely white hair when she was Zhen’s age a year ago from Lun Lun picking her up and moving her around. Now, she’s way too big for her mom to pick her up and that pink color has totally disappeared! If I’m right, I think this is pretty typical with cubs this age to have that pink color on their hair from their moms’ saliva when the moms pick them up. Zhen’s still cute and fun to watch no matter what color her hair is!

    Well, not too much to say here for now. Going to go back on the cam and see what Little Miss Z is up to.

    Have a very happy New Year, you all!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  76. Frances in NY says:

    Hi, Hazel #71–thanks for the reassurance. I’m sure the camera angle doesn’t show the distance from the trees to the wall. Just couldn’t bear to think of anything happening to our little Miss ZZ.

    Also, I’m curious–did anyone else see the hilarious sight of Bai Yun diving and somersaulting into the den (this was either Christmas or Christmas Eve) with a bamboo branch and then doing headstands and rubbing her back against the branch to release the leaves for the den? She did it three or four times and seemed to be having lots of fun–I was laughing out loud.

    Happy New Year, all!

  77. Paula says:

    LOL watching the cam…Ms. Zoom Zoom would like to stay up late, and mom would like to sleep! Been there! Looks as if Precious wants to stay awake and watch Saturday Night Live. She’s a handfull, for sure. Always so amazing to see how small she looks in comparison to her big mama.

    Happy New Year soon, y’all!

    Paula in TX

  78. Frances in NY says:

    I agree, Paula #77–I always think how big she’s getting until I see her in perspective to Bai Yun. Hard to believe that Bai was so little once–and that Zhen Zhen will be that big someday.

    Happy New Year, again y’all! (Native Texan–it’s OK)!

  79. Grace says:

    The area where Bai Yun and Zhen Zhen roam and climb is so dark is is very difficult to even watch.

    Screen captures are impossible. I have screen captures of all the baby cubs, in action, except Zhen Zhen.

    What a shame.

    Happy New Year to all.

  80. RHONDA says:

    happy new year to all at sdz- thanks for taking such good care of the babies.

    paula(77) & frances (78)- i knew y’all were from my native state when i read your posts!!

    rhonda in tennessee

  81. Bobbie Wood says:

    Happy 2008 to All Panda Fans and Panda Staff!

    This morning at 8:57AM Pacific Time, I finally got to see Miss Zhen CLIMB UP! She zooms right up! The most wonderful gift was given to me by my sister in Chicago! A Year Pass to the SDZ! I cannot wait to see the pandas in action 🙂 I do have a question for the Panda Staff. Right now the viewing hours for fans are from 9-11AM although Zhen and Bai are in the classroom for a good portion of the day now. Are the viewing hours extended past 11 yet? I’ll be coming from Orange County and I know the traffic will be a little wild early in the day. Also, perhaps I’ve just missed Sweet Su on the panda cam….she is still on exhibit, right? I cannot wait to get down to SDZ!!!! Also, one more question….is the den now closed? Zhen and Bai seem to be using the platform. Thank you all for the GREAT camera work!


    Bobbie Wood

  82. Donna Breedlove says:

    My family and I are enjoying watching Zhen Zhen and her mother–especially the cub imitating Bai Yun’s eating bamboo–or ” Panda school” as we call it. Many thanks for sharing this experience.

    Happy New Year to all at the SDZ,

    Donna in PA

  83. Barb in Surrey, BC says:

    Well, I just found little miss fluffybutt high in a tree, head down, doing acrobatics. Hmm, hope there is a pile of soft leaves at the base of this tree….She loves to tempt fate.

    It is nice that all the Robopandas were sold. Pleased for the income for SDZ, but also glad Christmas is past. Stay well, all you panda watchers, in the new year. Enjoy these beautiful animals as much as I do. Thanks, staff, for your wonderful work.

  84. Paula says:

    Frances #78 – you know, I’m thinking if she was sleeping at the end of my bed, she would be more of a ” medium” weight. I do wonder at the weight versus sheer size, there must be a whole lot of fluff there! My mastiff is 120 pounds, and he looks about 1/2 the size of Zhen.

    Panda dreams for all,


  85. Frances in NYC says:

    Paula #84–and yet, if your mastiff and Little Miss My Butt Better Be Fluffy in Case I Can’t Hold onto My Tree Branch were side by side, she would be about a sixth his size by weight. Probably about the size of his head.

    Panda cubs sleeping at the ends of our beds dreams for all–