Bai Yun has long had the nickname of “Teflon bear,” because she always looks so white and clean. In their early days at the San Diego Zoo, our male Shi Shi would be dirty and covered with grit, while our then-young female appeared freshly bathed. It didn’t much matter if it was raining or if the yard was mostly dirt or if she had just finished a play bout. Grime just never seemed to stick to our girl. Bai Yun was always camera ready.
Well, so much for that.
After weeks of renovation, our panda exhibits are once again ready to welcome our bears. New sod, fresh loamex (a soil conditioner), new trees and shrubs, and a host of new scents abound in their regular spaces, and when the doors opened this morning, the bears took advantage. The stimulation was enough to wake the playful urges in our old girl. She enjoyed wrestling with Yun Zi in the loamex and was even seen hanging upside down at one point. After finishing her play session and getting through her bamboo, she and Yun Zi crashed hard for a nap.
And let it be known that at the moment, she and her cub are as dirty as can be. I am reminded of that cherished children’s book, Harry the Dirty Dog. Bai Yun has gone from being a white bear with black spots (and legs) to being a black bear with white spots. She isn’t living up to her nickname today.
Come see our pandas in their newly renovated spaces. The thrill of the novel should entertain Yun Zi for a few more days to come, and you may even catch our matriarch engaged in a little spontaneous mischief herself.
Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Bears in Winter.
Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them!
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