Panda Surprises

Posted at 9:57 am November 26, 2010 by Alyssa Medeiros

On a lovely afternoon, the pandas were doing their usual activities: Yun Zi was playing around on the branches of his exhibit, while Bai Yun sat and munched on bamboo for a good amount of time. A few times I could see the little wheels turning in Yun Zi’s head, trying to decide what to investigate. I love to watch him while on the job because he never seems to bore me.

Today he decided to try to steal his mom’s food right out of her paw. Bai Yun was sitting back, chomping on a large rod of bamboo. Yun Zi crawled right on her big, furry stomach and tried to grab the piece that was in her mouth. She turned away once, but, of course, that didn’t work. He tried again to take the piece of bamboo, and she pushed him with her paw. Yun Zi gave up and resorted to stealing the left-over pieces that were resting by her foot.

Bai Yun did surprise me a little today. She walked to her pond to take a drink, stopped, and looked at the water, watching small leaves floating on the top. She stared at one leaf and slowly moved her paw toward the water. Then she grabbed it as fast as she could and ate the leaf. It was hilarious! She did this again and again until all of the leaves were gone. I had never seen her do this before.

Every time I am at the Giant Panda Research Station, I always see the pandas’ personalities shine. They each have their own little quirks. And as we all know, the end of a panda’s day is never complete without a nap.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

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45 Responses to “Panda Surprises”

  1. Annie Panda says:

    Wow, Yun Zi is getting quite strong, and Bai is so amazing and smart! I love those two together, they’re just adorable!

  2. PattiS says:

    Thank you for the cute stories. Do you think the zoo will put in a viewing cam like the one’s for the Polar Bears and the Elephants at the Safari Park?

  3. Linda says:

    Exactly the kind of behavior you would just LOVE to get on video!! I do so hope the old girl gives us another cub for us to watch. Yunior will be grown before you know it. What a joy!

  4. Danielle, NY says:

    Thanks Alyssa for this beautiful story, it must be a dream job to watch the pandas!! I thought I saw Gao Gao catching something from the pound this morning. He walked around the pound, his eyes fixed on something right in the middle of the pound, he finally caught it and ate it, I thought it was a floating biscuit!!!

    Here is a video just posted on Flickr by DoxieMom, you can see for yourself the size of Wee Lan’s head in comparison to Lun Lun’s eye patch:

  5. Weegee says:

    Haha…so Lin Ping isn’t the only one that like to snatch the boo right out off mama’s paw. The very same situation has occurred here at CMZ almost every nights. I think both Yunnie and Ah Ping agreed to that the easiest way to enjoy the boo was to steal it from mama.

    And it’s just a coincident that Rapprochement 123 captured the scene and just uploaded on Youtube. (Only this time LP didn’t want to eat that bamboo, she just wanted mama’s attention.) Here it is;

  6. Marti in OR says:

    I haven’t been reading these comments lately, so I don’t know if anyone has reported anything about the sisters Su and Zhen who are now out of quarantine in China. But a friend just back from visiting her parents in Beijing saw an article on their local TV news about them. She tells me the US-born pandas are now together in one enclosure, with others, all busily eating their bamboo in the TV footage. She says the article told how they were trying to get them used to the Chinese bamboo bread they feed the pandas there as a supplement by mixing it with the “American cookies” they are used to eating and love from home (US home of origin, that is). My friend doesn’t know the pandas by name or place as we do when I asked her “so you mean Su Lin and her little sis Zhen Zhen are together at last in one big yard?” , but I am assuming it is the sisters and they are together. They know each other by scent of course.(Probably the older males Tai and Mei Sheng are in other enclosures). Anyone know more ? Interesting!

  7. Margaret says:

    Thanks,Alyssa. Sounds like an interesting shift at Panda Research Station.

  8. Frances in NYC says:

    Wow–I hope somebody caught Bai’s “fishing” adventure this morning! Perhaps it’s an unknown fall panda delicacy–“Fallen Leaf Floating on Pond” or something?

    With Gao Gao climbing and Bai Yun hanging upside down and fishing, who knows what they’ll do next?

  9. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi, you all! Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend. Before long, Christmas will be here! Time to get that shopping done!

    Just read your newest article about the pandas. Bai Yun eating LEAVES?? WOW!!! I’m with you, Alyssa! I have never seen her on the pandacam nor heard of her eating tree leaves before! She must have thought that leaves were good for her and a new source of nutrition. Oh yeah, another panda study on panda eating habits in the wild! Bai has just posed a big, huge, monster question for all of the panda researchers here in the USA and in China: Can pandas eat other vegetation other than their regular food source of bamboo? Since Bai has just proven that pandas can eat other vegetation, I have a sneaky feeling that wild pandas probably do the same thing in their mountain ranges when they are not close to the bamboo forest. That will be a very interesting research project! Do you think you can put a “bug” in their ears about this idea? I am very interested in finding out the results of this one!

    Saw big Gao sitting and eating his boo. He was really working on that huge thick stalk of boo trying to strip it down. The eating machine is back at work! And, of course, there’s Yuni doing his thing, climbing tree branches, stealing his mom’s boo, and napping!

    Gonna stop on this one to keep it relatively short. Will be writing another comment about Lun and the cub; that’s coming up next!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  10. Kathy in CT says:

    #5 Weegee I am quite impressed with Lin Ping’s parallel bars routine/”armed” robbery skills. She’s got talent! Is bamboo on the verge of extinction at SDZ? Gao’s eternal propeller action with the boo today is leaving this question needing an answer… 🙂 He is SO, SO cute!

    Moderator’s note: Not to worry. In addition to growing bamboo for our pandas right on Zoo grounds, we also grow bamboo for them at our sister facility, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and a third location where we grow browse for many of our leaf-eating animals.

  11. Chari Mercier says:

    Me again! Forgot to mention the other article about thanking the pandafans. Well, SDZ panda keepers, you are so welcome! You all are doing a great job with these 3 pandas and are having fun doing it. Thank you for all you are doing to make sure that these bears are well taken care of, loved, and educating all of us about the wild world that these pandas are dealing with right now plus the importance of working towards saving as much of their China habitat as we can and letting these pandas have their own home range there.

    Now, about Lun Lun and her cub. Got some new weights and measurements from the Atlanta Zoo panda update page. I also saw Lun and her cub on the pandacam today! YEA!! Lun’s trying soooo hard to hide her cub, and the only way that she can do that now is hunch over her cub. Sneaky smart panda momma!

    The keepers did that weight comparison on Lun on Wed., 11/24 that I told you about the other day, and now I have the weights on her. On 10/30 before she gave birth to her cub, she weighed 97.2 kg=214 pounds; on 11/24, 101 kg=223 pounds. That’s a 4 pound increase since Lun has gone back to eating her regular diet. Good for her! More milk for baby!!

    The cub has done some more growing, too! Here are the measurements and weight on the cub that were taken on 11/24: weight 714 grams=1.5 pounds=25 ounces; length not including tip of nose to tip of tail 25 cm long=10 inches long; chest girth 23 cm=9 inches; tail 7 cm=3 inches; neck girth 16.5 cm=6.5 inches; abdominal girth 27 cm=10.5 inches; total length including tip of nose to tip of tail 33.5 cm long=13 inches long. The cub is now 3 weeks old, 21 days. If you want to do some comparisons on the cub, go to the AZ panda update page and read their Friday, November 19 update to get those measurements and weight on the cub. You’ll see how much this little cutey has grown!

    Well, gonna go and catch the AZ pandacam before it shuts down for the weekend. Gonna try to catch another looksee of the cub again! Have a good weekend, you all!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  12. Danielle, NY says:

    Today is the first Anniversary of Funi and Wang Wang’s arrival in Australia.

    Don’t miss this video:


    Also: Love is in the air….


    Funi is only 4 year old but she is maturing and her behavioral changes caught the attention of her keepers. As it is written in the article, Funi and Wang Wang are the first pandas living in the southern hemisphere, so it will be interesting to see if that will have an influence on Funi’s oestrus season, if it will be the same as in China and the rest of the northern hemisphere, April/May, or if it will be six months off like for the seasons down under…

  13. Chari Mercier says:

    Just saw Gao again on the pandacam, and he is STILL eating his boo!! Eating machine at work! Great closeups of Gao, pandacamers!

    Got back on the AZ pandacam before it shut down, and saw Lun’s cub all by himself on the den floor being quiet and still waiting for mom to come back in from eating her dinner boo. He even managed to tuck that 7 cm long tail under him! CUTE!!

    Gonna go! Will be back later on!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  14. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Yunnie apparently has forgotten the #1 rule… ALL food is Bai’s food!! 🙂

    DoxieMom.. .sweet video of Wee Lan and Lun… I really like the name “Wee Lan”… I think that one will stick even after the official naming. 🙂

    Thanks Weegee… Ah Ping reminds me of Ah Chuang when she plays on her climbing structure… 🙂

  15. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Hi Weegee: I was watching a bit of Ah Ping and she was outside, but as a little cub. One of the keepers was power washing her outside exhbit and then there were several different keepers and the Dr. all outside with her… What was happening? Is the royal family able to go outside now? Thanks! Dianna

  16. Bamboo Britney says:

    The mom has to do everything! She was simply just cleaning her water. Yun Zi was to lazy to clean it up himself! lol:

  17. Bamboo Britney says:

    Just got back from my holiday travels. Hope all the panda fanatics had a happy thanksgiving!

  18. inparadise says:

    Gao Gao is truly a guy: he dumps his load, then sits down next to it and continues to eat. What a difference from Bai, who has a special area away from where she eats.

  19. Ave Basilio says:

    Hahaha! Poor Yun Zi, anyway, he’s a naughty little kid. I’ve just discovered this live cam at facebook. Since then, I always wake up 4am and sneak out of my room trying not to wake my sister up, then head to the kitchen and go online to watch them until 5:30am, then I leave the screen open as I prepare for school. I feel really bad whenever I don’t get a last glimpse of them before shutting the laptop down.

    I’ve always wanted to pet a panda but I don’t think that is possible while I live in the philippines, plus I got no place for them, and for their food. Maybe, if I can work at a Zoo, even just a cleaner of their cage, I’d love to see panda’s up close. I feel jealous watching those tourist playing with the pandas. Specially this video when I saw it, I dunno if I should be happy? or Sad? Happy because the panda’s are funny in this video, and sad because I feel really jealous! Hehehe, anyway, thank you for sharing something this beautiful to the public. I’ll always be watching the panda’s til they grow up 🙂 ( Well, I’ll try to sneak everyday hahaha!)

    Here’s the video I’m telling:

  20. Lucilla in Singapore says:

    ‘Hey Y guy, heard from Ping you have some crazy scheme up your furry arm, wassup?’

    ‘How’s it hanging, X man?’

    ‘Guess what, my little di di who is nicknamed Wee Lan, is gonna grow bigger than any of us. One dude compared all our measurements and he is way ahead of Jie Jie and me at this age. Woah, watch out world for Thon of Yang II! Hee hee, can’t wait to teach the little guy all my skills!’

    ‘Auntie Lun Lun will scream!’

    ‘Hahaha, and she will turn into Mommy Monster, MUAHAHAHA! I luv her when she is like that, so fun! When she is in serious mommy mode, all she wants to do is hug, kiss and lick me clean…yuck!’

    ‘Well, I like it when Mama hugs me and plays with me!’

    ‘The time will come, the time will come when you wanna be on your own and have your own pad and you can invite whoever you want over, any time of the day, get my drift?’

    ‘Errr, why? The enclosure is big enough for Mama and me. Even Papa if he wants to join us.’

    Slapping his paw to his forehead, Xi Lan says, ‘I keep forgetting you are still a baby. Never mind, the day will come when you want to have your own space for the panda girlies you meet. I heard from Tai and Fooey, the China villas are big and full of trees.’

    ‘Oh, girlies…well all the ones I know are either Jie Jies or cousins….Never mind, I need your hewp to contact all the members of Panda Cubs United and gather all of them for a confab.’


    ‘Because of the Pandas Give Back project for Cwismass. I told you about it via sms remember?’

    ‘Yes, and I think it is a great and cool idea. I like the circus concert idea and the food fair. We can transform parts of the zoo into a special magical fairground and there will be a tent for acts.’

    ‘And I was thinking, we can auction off stuff like Ping’s toys, my drawings, Mama’s cookies, your Mama’s approw cakes….’

    ‘I can donate photographs….some of the hoomans have taken some nice photos of my family and we can auction those….’

    ‘I think some of the animals want to help too as they have been blessed by the hoomans. Think how many hooman children we can save if we gather all the help…Wow…and we can edukate hoomans on how to save Panda homes and bamboo forests and not kill Pandas…..’

    ‘YES! Y guy, you are on to something. I will help you get the gang together and we can have a brainstorm. What about the aunties and uncles?’

    ‘I have emailed all the aunties and uncles outside China. They have all agreed to help. Some of them suggested doing some cultural items linked to the country they are in such as Mexican tortillas with bamboo and bamboo sushi. And some have suggested musical items like playing waltzes from Vienna…’

    ‘And Wang Wang and Funi can do some traditional Australian music with the digeerido!’

    ‘Maybe we can get a TV station to telecast the event live and we can have a phone in segment with hoomans pledging munies?’

    ‘WOWIE, what a good idea! I think some of the munies can go help the children in Haiti..’

    ‘Let’s raise the munies first and see. Maybe we won’t get much munies.’

    ‘We must believe in the goodness of peewples to hewp…we can do it. Let’s all have the confab tomorrow night, my time.’

    ‘Roger! Over and Out.’

    ‘Bye Bye X Man, thanks for hewping me!’

  21. Linda says:

    So cute!! Thanks for the wonderful stories! I can picture it almost as if I was there.

    Btw, I love how you have the pop-out photos on the blog now 🙂

  22. Amanda says:

    Feeding time for the Pandas. Watching Bai & Yun Zi sitting side by side eating their afternoon boo. Zoo visitors are getting a close up view of the two. The camera then switches to Gao Gao eating his boo as well. He appears to be hiding behind some bushes? At the same time on the otherside of the world in Thailand, it’s also feeding time as LP is at the milkbar courtesy of her mom LH.

  23. pandafan#2 says:

    Thank you everyone who answered my question about Wee Lan, and thanks Moderator for telling me how old Yunior is! In this story, Bai sounds a bit like a my cat! (Except without the water, of course.)

  24. Marie says:

    Chari, great comments. Are you a book writer?

  25. Amanda says:

    #15 Dianna OH – Today LP turns 1 year, 6 months and earlier today they had a celebration in the outside garden. She received an ice cake decorated with grapes, carrots and apples. Her parents were also given some extra fruit treats. I’m not sure if the outside garden will be her new area. After the ceremony she was taken back to her indoor exhibit. Weegee can fill you in on the rest. 🙂

  26. Weegee says:

    Live from Thailand…

    CMZ outdoor exhibit has re-opened for the pandas again during the winter.

    If any of you watched our panda channel 0n 27 of Nov, you would see a bit of a chaos between the keepers and Ah Ping. They tried to make her having her birthday cake but LP just wanted to be with her mama. And I couldn’t stand to see them do such thing to my precious LP at all, besides the temperature wasn’t cool enough for panda to be outside. It must be very uncomfortable for her, poor poor girl.

    This morning was a little better. CMZ finally allowed LH to be out with LP and the weather was cooler than yesterday. Lp looked very much happy to have mama with her. LH showed little sign of nervous, she still didn’t want LP to climb up the tree….No matter how big LP is, she’s still mama’s little girl…. ^___^

  27. lu says:

    Thanks for the update on Yun Zi tricks. He sure knows how to bug mom.

    Was at the Zoo on the 26th, missed the leaf eating, When I finally got to see them Yun Zi was in his hammock and mom was eating bo so everyone could see. The new digs looks great, a nice job done.

    The day was great and had a good time. Hope to be back soon.


  28. Danielle, NY says:

    Now that the pandacam at the Atlanta Zoo is on Lun Lun and her cub when it is on, it is nice to see beautiful pictures of daddy Yang Yang and big brother Xi Lan taken at the Zoo. Don’t miss the close-ups taken yesterday:

  29. Bernice in the Yukon says:

    Great camera work right now on the fabulous play session…kudos to the camera operator!

  30. Lynn (Scotland UK) says:

    Greetings from snowy Scotland. Wonderful play session this Sunday morning. Don’t think I have ever seen both pandas running about so much over such a long period of time. Hope DoxieMom caught some of it .
    A question that I hope you might answer is this: On returning to the exhibit after it has been cleaned and refreshed with new bamboo, do both Bai Yun & Yun Zi receive rewards from the keepers behind the wire? What type of rewards are given? Does this also happen with Gao Gao?
    Finally, love the new exhibits and super camera work.

    Moderator’s note: No, the pandas don’t need any coaxing to return to an exhibit that has a pile of fresh bamboo 😉

  31. Chari Mercier says:

    Marie (#24): No, I am not a book writer, but I kind of wish I was! I just love to write, and I’m glad that you enjoy reading my comments.

    Just saw Mr. Gao on the pandacam, and he’s in his usual element—eating his boo like the eating machine he is! He also loves to make a mess, too! He’s always got alot of splinters on his stomach after he gets done stripping down those boo stalks. He’s been having lots of fun stripping those monster sized stalks down to size in the last couple of days!

    Gonna go and get some dinner. Still finishing up on turkey day leftovers!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  32. Frances in NYC says:

    Bai and Yunnie having a very energetic moonlight play session tonight!

  33. Diane Lincoln, Ca. says:

    Always enjoy reading updates on the pandas and their antics. Thank you Alyssa for your post.

    Enjoying the new cub at AZ and especially the close up cam.

    Thank you, #28 for all your sites. I look for you now for the latest on the pandas. Also Doxie Mom and all your sites.

    Moderator: Question for you. Will there be a blog on how the girls are doing in their new home in China?

    Moderator’s note: These requests have been forwarded to the Panda Team.

  34. Dianna from Ohio says:

    I hope DoxieMom is getting this closeup shot of Wee Lan and Lun Lun(12:30ish CST)

    … Poor Little Wee Lan is sleeping upside down and he has his arm over his little face like Lun sleeps… His little fuzzy butt and tail are wagging back and forth and his little legs are up in the air… poor little fella!!

    Annie Panda: That could be the name of your stuffie… in honor of Lun’s cubbie, you could call yours “Wee Lan”….

  35. tanda says:

    I told my husband I would love to see the panda’s for my Christmas present. We are leaving Oregon for San Diego on Dec 20. Isn’t that a thrill. It is a long trip and we have 3 passes to go over so everyone hope we get NO snow until during that time slot, okay? lol I can hardly wait to see the beautiful panda’s, I have never seen one. Thanks for the wonderful stories and photos. I love them. I have been watching Yun Zi since he came into the world yapping away that he is the head cheese. lol

    Moderator’s note: What a wonderful gift idea! The pandas look forward to your visit, tanda!

  36. Pandafan#2 says:

    I have a question for anyone to answer! What will happen when Bai is past her cubby- bearing years? Will she stay here? Will the zoo get a new pair? What will happen?

    Moderator’s note: Our current loan agreement with China states that Bai Yun and Gao Gao will remain here until at least 2013.

  37. kat wilson says:

    What a wonderful view the visitors have right now! Up close and personal with Little Cloud and his mummy!!!

    Ooh, what I’d give to be there right now…..sooo sweet, little one is laying down with his fluffy tummy showing

    for the world to see and Bai just sitting there along with him, chewing her boo. So, so close to the visitors…

    Thanks, meerkats, for the great shot!!


  38. Char says:

    Isnt there ANY way to position the camera to get close ups of Yunior and Mama WITHOUT the tops of peoples heads showing? Pretty difficult to send a postcard these days!! Thanks for checking into this for all of us out here in cam land.

  39. Bobbie Wood says:

    Tanda # 35: What a wonderful Christmas Gift you have been given!!! You all will LOVE the SDZ!!! Make certain you bring your camera and battery charger!!! And….you might want to consider joining the Zoo because you might want to spend more than one day and/or also see the Wild Animal Park (now Safari Park) on this trip. Definitely ‘cost effective’. 🙂

  40. lindaluvspandas says:

    Tanda what a great gift! I am a bit jealous. I think I will have to save and give myself a gift like that! I hope you have a wonderful time! I would love to see the Bai Gao family up close and personal. I miss the girls but would love to see my little Yunior! The new cubbie at Atlanta is just precious, they hook you in no time at all! It is dark now at SDZ and I see Bai chowing on her boo.

    Moderator – can Panda’s see well at night? They sleep so much I was wondering if they are more day or night bears!

  41. Susan(UK) says:

    #35 Tanda, you will love the SDZ. What a wonderful Christmas present. Have fun!

  42. Laura says:

    yummy leaf floating in my pond
    grab it with my paw
    now the leaf is gone

  43. Lucilla in Singapore says:

    Nice Haiku, Laura No 42

  44. Delia says:

    Aw! wish I hadn’t have missed them doing that!:P

    Thanks for that awesome post! 🙂

  45. Pat in Nevada says:

    My little man I see is getting so big and so handsome ♥

    Beautiful Bai Yun, such a wonderful mama bear ♥

    We hope to come visit again this spring/summer……

    Enjoyed our trip to the zoo this year……

    Have a great day all….:)