China Trip Diary: Part 2

Posted at 11:17 am December 2, 2010 by Gaylene Thomas

Tracy, left, and Gaylene pose on the truck with the pandas on moving day.

Giant pandas Su Lin and Zhen Zhen moved to Wolong, China on September 24, 2010. Gaylene accompanied them on their journey and is sharing the trip with us through blog installments. Be sure to read China Trip Diary: Part 1.

The day of departure arrived, and the keepers and I did our best to focus on the tasks we had to accomplish rather than the goodbyes we had to say. Su Lin and Zhen Zhen entered their crates and settled in. I buckled my seatbelt on the bench seat directly in front of the pandas in the cargo section of the truck, and we departed for the land portion of the journey.

Associate Curator Curby Simerson drove the truck with Senior Veterinarian Tracy Clippinger, Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, and I as passengers. Tracy gave me a quick overview of the veterinary medical equipment she packed in case of an emergency. California Highway Patrol escorted us for the seemingly quick trip to Los Angeles International airport. Lead Keeper Lisa Bryant drove the chaser truck with all the panda luggage and passengers Shea Johnson and Ken Bohn (Zoo videographer and photographer).

A crated panda is placed on a cargo pallet at the airport.

Los Angeles Airport staff greeted us when we arrived and instructed us through the steps of transferring the precious cargo from our truck to the loading warehouse. The staff was very understanding of our unique demands to remain with the pandas for every step of the process. The warehouse was busy; forklifts, boxes, pallets, and people were all on the move. The travel crates with Su Lin and Zhen Zhen inside, their supplies and food, were secured to cargo pallets. Airport staff carefully transferred the pallets to a quiet corner of the warehouse, where Su Lin and Zhen Zhen seized the opportunity for a nap.

For the next few hours Lisa, Tracy, Shea, Ken, and I stayed with Zhen and Su Lin. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials reviewed permits, observed the pandas, and confirmed the authorization of the transport. Zhen Zhen and Su Lin were comfortable enough to snack on some biscuits and a bit of bamboo. Prior to boarding the airplane, Lisa, Tracy, and I had our first opportunity to try out the travel husbandry techniques we had practiced . We successfully cleaned both crates and drinkers without causing a startle from Su Lin or Zhen Zhen. We secured all the supplies and cleaning equipment back onto the shipment pallet and were ready for the next step.

Pandas and staff are lifted up to the cargo plane.

Airport officials allowed all of us to move onto the tarmac with Su Lin and Zhen Zhen. The Boeing 777 we were about to board appeared magnified by our miniscule presence on the tarmac! Tracy and I were given quick instructions on how to safely “ride” the cargo lift, and we stepped up beside Su Lin and Zhen Zhen. We were slowly elevated until we were staring directly into the huge cargo hull. The metal pallets with us, the bears, and supplies were mechanically moved through the hull of the plane on tracks.

Loading our precious cargo first meant that Su Lin and Zhen Zhen would be in the front section of the plane, just on the other side of the wall with four passenger seats. Geographically moving from the nose of the cargo plane back was the cockpit, a small area for the crew (total of four members), a small galley area, and four passenger seats. Aboard the plane with Tracy and I was our liason to China and interpreter, Peter. Su Lin and Zhen Zhen were pretty tired at this point. The move from the warehouse to the plane was uneventful for them and didn’t interfere with another nap.

Tracy and I were given a short lesson on the emergency equipment of the aircraft. We were shown how to operate the door between us and the bears and how to use the amenities of the galley. The Chinese crew settled us in with blankets and M&Ms for a 2:30 a.m. departure.

Tracy checks on a panda after the travel crate is secure in the plane.

Shortly after take-off, Tracy and I summoned a crew member, as we were requested to do, to check on Su Lin and Zhen Zhen. We were anxious to assess the pandas’ reaction to air travel. Both bears looked very relaxed, so we elected to turn off the lights in hopes of encouraging a much-needed block of sleep time. Tracy and I checked on the bears about every four hours. Su Lin and Zhen Zhen guided our activities by their behaviors. If they were lying down and resting or sleeping, we remained quiet and moved slowly while checking on them. If they roused, we would talk to them in a quiet voice. If they seemed to respond to our presence and voice, we would offer food.

Su Lin was receptive to her standard variety of food, including bamboo culm, biscuits, carrots, yams, and apple slices. The travel crates were the perfect size for her to position herself in the classic “panda prop sit” against the wall of the crate and precisely strip and consume the bamboo. Zhen Zhen enjoyed small amounts of bamboo culm but was much more eager to take the biscuits, fruits, and veggies as I offered them through the large food hatch on the top of the crate. The cleaning routine worked just as well in the air as on land. Honey was a great distraction from the rake that cleared away debris from the crates!

Gaylene Thomas is an animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo.

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71 Responses to “China Trip Diary: Part 2”

  1. pandafan-north says:

    Gaylene, thank you very much for part II. It sounds like everything was executed with precision and I’m happy to hear that the girls took to the flight like nothing unusual was going on. So, the panda fans are literally hanging in the air until part III comes out. Thank you, again, for taking the time to give us another installment of “The Gao-Yun Sisters Go to China.”

  2. lj says:

    I am reading this installment with tears in my eyes because on the day the girls departed was the exact day my son and I went to the SDZ to see the girls before they left…..well of course we didnt make it in time to say goodbye 🙁 It also brings back the memory of when the girls were being placed on the plane, my son is driving us to his house in Glendale and I am praying that we would get there in one piece because he has become an LA driver, so with that memory I really do smile knowing that the girls travels were much less stressful then mine 🙂

    Gaylene, thank you so much for sharing the experience with us. Will there be a 3rd part sharing what happened when you arrived in China?

    Moderator’s note: There is one more installment coming from Gaylene.

  3. Shirley Ann says:

    Great article – are we going to receive news on how they are doing in China?

    Moderator’s note: The Panda Team is preparing a post on this very topic 😉

  4. Georgie says:

    Great news! Very informative….

    Apparently Su Lin and Zhennie went 1st Class on their flight to China.

    It was comforting to know that the “Girls” were being cared for by someone compassionate,

    and who put the Panda’s well-being before their own needs.

    Thank you caring Panda Crew for watching over our California Girls !

    Loved the comfort snack of M&M’s for the Zoo Crew.

    Any up-to-date news on their acclimation to their ancestral home in China?

  5. nancy from michigan says:

    THANKS FOR THE VERY INTERESTING UP-DATE: it is amazing how every small detail was thought out ahead of time and enacted when needed! it seems su-lin and zhen zhen were very calm and relaxed during this flight to china. exactly how long a flight is it? I thought it was cute that you women were provided blankets and m&m’s.

    chocolate is a soother and a calmer isn’t it? lol……………I am a grandma and still love peanut butter & m&m’s!

    how long were you there? hopefully we can get up-dates from china on how our bears are doing!

  6. Heidi says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information with us. I’m probably way too attached to these bears, but they are such a fascinating subject for me, and I thoroughly enjoy learning everything I can about the care of these beautiful creatures. Thank you!

  7. Danielle, NY says:

    The Japanese Pambassador, Yumiko Kajiwara, went to BiFengXia and posted pictures. yumikaji15(dot)blogspot(dot)com/2010/12/day-beifengsha-panda-base.html

    She posted pictures of Bi Li and Xian Nu due to move to Tokyo next year. She also posted pictures of Ling Ling, born Aug 25 1995, who has white hair patches on his hind legs and white toes on his left hind paw, and a big mouth!! There are also several pictures of a panda she named Fu Bao, but I suspect it is Hu Bao, a female born on September 3, 2008, scheduled to move to Singapore in August 2011 with Wu Jie, Fu Long’s cousin and roommate. Until recently Hu Bao was sharing her enclosure with Ning Ning, but on November 5, he left for Liugong Island National Forest Park with Zhu Ling. Perhaps that is the reason why Hu Bao was so active, trying to escape, climbing high up in a tree, she might have been looking for her roommate… We are normally very sad when “our” pandas are moving to China, but it is as hard for the Chinese panda keepers when “their” pandas are moving to another facility.

    “Ning Ning: The Last day in Bifengxia”

    And last but not least, Yumiko posted pictures of Mei Sheng, Fu Long and Wu Jie, Tai Shan. She also posted a picture of Tai Shan in the front and Fu Long high up in a tree. Unfortunately, no pictures of Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, at least not yet.

  8. Diane Lincoln, Ca. says:

    Thank you for part II. This is a step by step Diary which explains how well the staff trained the pandas and prepared themselves for the trip.

    Anxiously waiting for part III.

  9. Linda / NorCal says:

    Gaylene, I feel so much better. To know for sure how smoothly everything went, is so comforting. Thank you for the post. I look forward to hearing more.

  10. Kate says:

    Again – another fascinating story of your trip. So much to do and think about. Of course our panda girls were perfect passengers!

  11. Kathy in CT says:

    It is comforting to know that ALL the girls had a good trip- from precision and safety to the big picture of conservation- these journeys remind all of us that time goes on- and change goes on. I am with #2 lj- with the tear and the sad, still. We have Chinese visitors at our school this week- and though they are there on a teacher/educational exchange, it takes a lot of discipline to not ask about the pandas…

  12. lu says:

    Thank you Gaylene for the second part of your trip. Like one of the comments I to was teary e yed.

    But was expected and glad all went well. I’m sure us humans were more anxious than the bears.

    It was a smooth trip and you guys were with them, so the gals were in a comfort zone.

    Bless all of you in the panda compound for the love and care you give these little darlings. Looking forward

    to next phase of the trip.


  13. Frances in NYC says:

    Thanks, Gaylene–and can’t wait for Part III and the Panda Team post that Moderator mentioned in #3. I hope hope hope there will be some new pictures of our girls. From the little bits of info that Chet has been able to pass on, it seems the girls have settled in well–but I hope someone will post a bunch of new pictures someday. That would be a GREAT Christmas present!

  14. Jeslyn in San diego says:

    Reading about the girls left me teary eyed. Thank you for taking such good care of them

  15. Lucilla in Singapore says:

    ‘Hey, Y GUY!’

    ‘Hiya, Ping, what’s up?’

    ‘I may stay in Thailand for another 2 years!’


    ‘And they are gonna build me a larger enclosure with more climbing structures!’


    ‘But Mama is not happy.’


    ‘Remember I fell off that tree? Mama has not forgotten and she is worried that I may have another fall. I cant hewp being adventurous! Poo!’

    ‘You are like my sister ZZ in that way.’

    ‘Yes, she taught me some cool moves and how to hang by your paw while shifting from tree branch to tree branch. Your Mama is good at this too.’

    ‘Hahaha, she is. But she wont let me climb much so I tend to pway closer to home. I have a newly refurbished enclosure. It has heaps more trees to climb.’

    ‘Kewl. wait till you are on your own.’

    ‘Ya, X man tells me how fun it is but I will miss Mama! She is my favourite enrichment toy! Hee Hee!’

    ‘Gotta go, Panda Grrrls are on soon. Thanks for organizing this Pandas Give Back event! I think it is a nice way for us to thank hoomans for loving us!’

    ‘See ya, Break a Paw!’

  16. Tony in Clearwater FL says:

    To the tune of “Winter Wonderland”:

    Pan-da bleats, are you listening?

    At Wolong, snow is glistening,

    A beautiful sight,

    A sea of Black and white.

    Walking in a Panda wonderland.

    Panda males, napping inside,

    Panda cubs, on a snow slide.

    Pan Pan sings a love song,

    As females go along,

    Walking in a Panda wonderland.

    In the meadow Mei Sheng builds a snowman,

    Zhen Zhen adds the eyes and nose of coal,

    He’ll say: Are you cold?

    She’ll say: No bro,

    But I miss the warmth of San Diego.

    Later on, munching bamboo,

    Sui Lin dreams of SD Zoo,

    But She’ll have a mate,

    Next spring is looking great,

    Walking in a Panda wonderland.

    In the meadow Tai Shan’s on the jungle gym,

    And pretend that he’s the panda king,

    He’ll say I’m the king of the mountain,

    Until Mei Sheng comes and knocks him down.

    When it snows, happy bears,

    Boo and biscuts, they will share,

    They frolic and play, the panda way,

    Walking in a panda wonderland.

  17. Danielle, NY says:

    Don’t miss the article and pictures of Jeroen’s second day at the Madrid Zoo. The twin male cubs and both parents are doing very well. The cubs are so cute and beautiful, and there are a lot of close-ups. It is nice to have nanny keepers to look after the babies so mommy can eat outside and take a nap in her favorite tree!!


  18. Annie Panda says:

    😀 Thanks Gaylene for part two- I’m so jealous that you got to go to china with the girls, haha.

    Great pictures too, can’t wait till part three and hear about the girls! Hopefully there is a good photographer for Su Lin and Zhennie in China 😉 ! Wish there was a Su and ZZ cam, haha!

    🙂 Peace, Love and Pandas CIAO!

    Annie Panda

  19. pam says:

    thank you for the blog it was great. can’t wait til the next one and the panda team one. wish we knew something about grammie. miss her.

  20. Fonsia says:

    Thanks so much for this! It’s a great relief to learn that the girls had such an easy flight. I eagerly await Part Three, and especially the post on our girls in China!

    Danielle #7, yes, I’ve often thought that it’s equally as hard on the Chinese keepers and fans as it is on us to send their precious bears overseas to us. Imagine how difficult it must have been for Bai Yun’s Chinese keepers to send her here—as she was the first cub born in Wolong.

    I’ll bet our girls will have or are having a blast in the snow! First time for them that it will last more than one day!

  21. Lucilla in Singapore says:

    Then the lights went dim. All eyes were directed onto the stage. And what a sight. There was a 300 strong choir of pandas and hoomans standing shoulder to shoulder, all dressed in their smartest black and white tie attire.

    Then the spotlight went to the podium as Gao Yun Zi trotted out and lifted his baton, acknowledging the crowds of thousands.

    ‘Welcome to Pandas Give Back ‘A Night of a Thousand Blessings’ concert’. In this two hour long concert, there will be hoomans and pandas performing for you. And there are telephones ready to take your pledges. We hope to raise 10 million to help feed poor hooman children in this region. Please help us as we pandas want to give back some of the love we have received. Thank you.’

    The Choir burst into song as they sang a series of love songs from around the world. It featured soloists as the pandas sang in the language of the host zoo. Soon there was Japanese, Cantonese, Mexican, Austrian, Spanish and English voices raised to sing about how love can change the world.

    Then the lights dimmed and from below the stage a platform rose up and Xi Lan was beating his heart out on a drum set. He was rocking and as he reached fever pitch, there were screams as from four corners, the Panda Grrls Su Lin, ZZ, Ping and guest pandas Hua Mei and Mei Lan swung in on bungee cords. As they landed, the sang a set of rock and roll songs. That got the crowds on their feet.

    And surprise! Bai Yun then jived in with Gao Gao and they jitter bugged joined by Lun Lun and Yang Yang, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, Le Le and Ye Ye. They did a tribute to all the rock and roll greats like Elvis Bearsley, Bear Hayley and Cublets, Bear Bear King and Cubby Checker.

    Bai Yun was almost breathless after being dipped by Gao Gao. But she managed to regain her composure and went up to the podium.

    ‘Hello! I am not used to speaking. But tonight is special and it is a special cause. We want to help and to show that together we can save the world in more ways than one. The younger pandas have put together a special segment now of runway clothes and every outfit is for sale. You can bid for them with your phones on this number 1800-panda-love. Thank you.’

    As the crowds settled down, in one corner was world famous singers Mariah Beary, Celine Beon, Whitney Bearston. They took turns singing their hits. As each song floated over the heads of the crowds, down the centre runway strode Mei Lan, Hua Mei, Fu Long, Xi Lan, Tai Shan, Ping, Mei Sheng, Su Lin, Zhen Zhen and Yun Gabearna, Christian Bear-or, Vera Pang…the whos who of the Panda haute coutier designers. And the finale began with Celine Beon singing about how her heart will go on and on with Ping and Fu Long walking down the aisle as a wedding couple. Their outfits were beaitiful. Ping was in a white organza and silk flapper dress with pearls and crystals inlays. Fu Long was in a morning coat and top hat. The crowds erupted into thunderous applause.

    Yun Zi trots out to centre stage and tells everyone, ‘ So far today, we have been sooooo blessed. We have received pledges of more than $14 million dollars…’ then his voice cracked as tears ran down his cute face.

    Ping picks the mike from him. ‘When Yunnie called with this idea, I thought WOW what a kewl idea. Pandas giving back. And doing it with hoomans. And other animals. In fact the cousin bears have helped so much. The polar bears took charge of the ice cream parlour and the brown bears took charge of the fishing game…so many too many to name now. Yunnie is just so excited that his dream of wanting to love the world and the community is coming true.’

    By now, Bai Yun and Gao Gao are next to Yun Zi hugging and loving their cubby. Yun Zi returns to the podium.

    ‘Sorry for that. I was overwhelmed by all the love that was overflowing tonight. I believe that we become better pandas and people when we are able to love and be loved. We need to love others more than loving ourselves and to want the best for them. Mama and Papa have been my biggest influence and they are the bestest parents a cubby could have. Mama and Papa you are my heroes.’

    For the finale, all the talents came on stage and for the finale everyone linked hands and paws, wings, claws etc to sing ‘The Greatest Love of All.’ Then the fireworks got going thanks to the giraffes and elephants who helped build the support structures to launch the fireworks.

    When the crowds looked skyward, the final burst of stars fell to form a heart. And a bright full moon shone on them.

    Gao Gao murmurs in to Bai Yun’s perfectly shapped ear, ‘When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore….’

    Bai Yun blushes and whisphers, ‘You sigh the song begins, you speak and I hear violins, its magic…’

    They glance over and see Yun Zi dancing and rocking with his cousins and friends on stage, Gao turns to Bai Yun, ‘Baibee, we did good.’ Bai smiles and replies, ‘Yeah, we did.’

    Together, paw in paw they go for a little moonlight walk…..


  22. Lucy says:

    Hi guys, Chengdu Panda center just posted a new blog about the panda “Bei Chuan”(which means northern Sichuan where she was rescued). The translation is as follows:

    A lots of people have been asking about Bei Chuan , the first wild born rescued after the earthquake, is she ok? is she even alive? Some even guessed that she must be dying that’s why we get so little information about her.

    We haven’t release any information about her so as to provide a queite environment for her to recover and heal. Bei Chuan suffers from severe pancreatitis when she was rescued. Her liver was very badly damaged, she could not eat anything. Her life was maintained by drip, she was so close to death those days. However, after months of treatment her life is basicly out of danger, the pancreatitis is also under control.Yet the newest ultrasound shows her liver has not fully recovered yet. From the following picture you can see her hair is very dry compared to those healthy pandas. She doesn’t like to move neither, she only exercise under the lure of food.

    Indeed, the recovery of liver does take a long time but we belive under the great care of our staff here, she will make it enventually. Thank you for caring about her, let’s hope her to fully recover soon enough.(End)

    well, pictures of Beichuan could be seen here:http://blog(dot)sina(dot)com(dot)cn/s/blog_49246d360100myzi.html

    she might be sick, but she truly is a beauty! her face is not the normal “panda-round-face” , I’d say its more like “heart shaped”, and she look so fragile, makes me so wanna hug her!

  23. Lucilla in Singapore says:

    ‘WEEEEEEE, Mama, open your eyes and wave to Papa! He’s over thereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’ screamed Yun Zi as he and his Mama are launched from the top of the roller coaster track down and tehn spun at an angle.

    ‘Mama, this is soooooo coool!’ yells Yunnie as he waves to his Papa who is sitting and munching on boo cotton candy.

    As the cars come to a halt, Yunnie leads his Mama out of the car.

    ‘Mama, you can open your eyes now, hee hee. You won’t frighten were you?’ asks Yunnie innocently with a mischievious grin about to break out.

    ‘Of course not.’

    ‘GOOOD, then can we go again?’ pleads Yunnie, ‘Pretty please. Pretty pretty please. I will even clean my hammock for a week, pleeeeeeaaaaseeee Mama!’

    ‘Humph, why dont you ask Papa to go with you? He will love to keep you company.’

    ‘No, he won’t. I already asked him just now. He wants his snackies. Please, Mama, please….’

    ‘Oh, there is Xi Lan, Fu Long and Tai Shan. Why don’t you go with them while I go find a spot for our family picnic?’

    ‘Hee Hee, cool, Mama, I luv you!’ grins Yunnie as he climbs back into a car, joined by his mates.

    ‘Yeah, yeah, I luv you too,’ grins Bai as she goes to find her husband.

    ‘Hey Babe, what can I do for you?’ smiles Gao Gao as his lovely wife approaches.

    ‘You can help me find a spot for a family picnic. There are so many people and pandas here for the Pandas Give Back Event, I can’t find a spot for all of us.’

    ‘Don’t worry your sweet self. Sir Gao Gao is here. Nothing is beyond the one and only Sir GG! Just have sit and share the boo cotton candy with me. Can you remember the good ole days when we were ahem courting?’

    ‘Hmmmm, and you used to sing to me and play me songs on your bamboo flute…..yes, those were the days…’

    ‘My bamboo flute is here….’ smiles Gao Gao.

    ‘It is?’

    ‘Yup, Yunior asked me to play a set later.’


    ‘And this song goes out to my beautiful hero wife….The Moon Represents My Heart….’

    ‘O Gao!’ sighs Bai Yun as her heart melts.

    ‘And I wrote this haiku for you, To know that I am loved by youTo know I have you to love

    That for me is paradise

  24. Michelle; Colorado Springs, CO says:

    It’s fantastic to finally hear about the girls and their departure to their native homeland. Can’t wait for part 3 and hope all is going well for them @ their new home. 🙂 Great narration Gaylene!

  25. Anne in NYC says:

    Thank you Gaylene for letting us pandaholics get an inside peek at all the details of the trip. What a triumph of planning. It must have been so exciting to be part of it. Can’t wait for Part III.

    Welcome back, Lucilla. Hope you’re feeling better each day.

  26. Karen says:

    Thank you Gaylene for Part 2. I am glad the California Pandas Su Lin and Zhen Zhen are doing fine. Cannot wait for Part 3.

  27. Panda Fan says:

    Recent photos from beautiful Mei Lan:

    blog (dot) sina (dot) com (dot) cn/s/blog_49246d360100ncri.html

  28. Pandafan#2 says:

    Another cliff hanger! 😉 Gaylene loves the cliffhangers! 🙂 What will happen after the loan expires? Will the zoo lease out new pandas? Or will there just be no more pandas?

    Moderator’s note: Your question has been forwarded to the Panda Team.

  29. Cindy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Those girls will always be special to us all. I look forward to seeing pictures of them in the future.

  30. Lee in Vancouver says:

    So enjoyed the Part 2 of the move. Thanks.

    #16 Tony – Love the song you wrote. It takes away any sadness I had of the girls going to China. Now I know they are having a great time with family and friends.

  31. Teresa, TN says:

    #16 Tony, what a wonderful song. I found myself singing as I read. could just picture Mei Sheng coming along and knocking Tai off.

    #21 Lucilla, enjoyed your story as always, keep them coming.

  32. Danielle, NY says:

    The male cubs born at the Madrid Zoo on September 7, 2010 are growing up. They are now out of the incubator and are weighing over 4.5 kg (about 10 lbs) and measure nearly 50 inches. The cubs are beginning to take its first steps. You can read about it on the Madrid Zoo blog: www(dot)zoomadrid(dot)com/blog/ the video from the blog can also be seen on YouTube

    Another panda growing nicely is Mei Lan, her weight has now reached 98 kg (216 lb). She just looks beautiful. blog(dot)sina(dot)com(dot)cn/s/blog_49246d360100ncri.html

  33. Danielle, NY says:

    Atlanta Zoo posted the results of Wee Lan’s health exam done yesterday. He weighed 1064 g (2.34 lb) at 29 days old. In comparison Xi Lan weighed 969 g (2.1 lb) and Yun Zi 1259 g (2.77 lb) at that age. At 28 days Lin Ping was at 1310 g (2.88 lb).
    I have the numbers for the other cubs from the SDZ starting around 42 days, but you can see the graph of the weights of all the SDZ cubs covering zero to 200 days at

  34. Danielle, NY says:

    If you want to compare the other measurements for Wee Lan with Yun Zi’s, you are lucky, Yun Zi had his first health exam when he was 29 days old!!

  35. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! Just read Part 2 about Su Lin’s and Zhen Zhen’s trip to China. Very good article, Gaylene! Now, we wait for part 3 about the trip!

    At Atlanta Zoo, Lun Lun’s cub had his vet checkup again yesterday (Dec. 2), and they wrote up their update today (Dec.3) on how he’s doing with new numbers:

    Weight 1064 grams=2 pounds=37.5 ounces; tip of nose to tip of tail 35 cm=14 inches; tail 6 cm=2 inches (tail starting to shrink into his body as he keeps growing!); neck girth17.5 cm=7 inches; chest girth 25.5 cm=10 inches; abdominal girth 27.5 cm=11 inches. You can read their November 26 update on the AZ website’s panda page to get a good comparison on how much this little guy has grown. And, he’s done some growing, too! I was on the AZ pandacam, and the cub was in plain site nursing while mom supported him with her big paws, then when he got done, Lun switched positions to get comfy while holding the cub. You can still see the cub even when they are laying down now! BTW, the cub is now ONE MONTH OLD today!!

    Not much else right now. Will be back later on!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  36. Danielle, NY says:

    If you want to see the video of Wee Lan’s health exam:

    “Cute newborn panda cub gets a check-up”

  37. Frances in NYC says:

    Thank you, Lucilla, for all the new stories, and thanks, Tony, for the new panda carol and Danielle and everyone else who provided the new links!

  38. lj says:

    #16 Tony….WONDERFUL SONG 🙂 I also sang it as I was reading the words. Its amazing how talented some of the panda fans are, not me, dont have a creative bone in my body.

  39. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Gaylene: Did Gao, Bai and Yunior exhibit any kind of nervous behavior when all this early morning acitivity was going on? I’m sure they had to figure that something was going on…. Thank you for informing us.. Do you remember what kind of enrichment toys Su and Zhen took with them? Did Zhennie get to take her blue donut tire?

  40. Panda Team says:

    #28 Pandafan#2

    While it’s true that our loan expires in a couple of years, you can rest assured that the San Diego Zoo is committed to keeping pandas and working to conserve them. The loan has already “expired” once, and we successfully negotiated a new one. We have no reason to believe that we won’t be successful again, so it’s fair to say that we will probably be in the panda business for a long time.

  41. pam says:

    great tony in clearwater, fl very good

  42. Fonsia says:

    Lucy #22, Oh my goodness, that is the sweetest-faced panda I’ve ever seen. What an adorable, dear bear!

    How wonderful if she can recover completely, and contribute to our panda population.

  43. Danielle, NY says:

    I just came across these beautiful pictures of Yun Zi and Bai Yun taken last Saturday And it seems that Karl Drilling and Rita Petita were at the SDZ watching Yun Zi and Bai Yun at the same time…

  44. Pandafan#2 says:

    Great! Thanks so much for answering my question! I was so curious. 🙂 I am so glad that the pandas will stay for longer. If they ever left, I would miss watching panda cam so much!

    This is for anybody… Are there any other panda cams besides this one and ZA panda cam? I love watching both, but I would hope there are more. ^_^

  45. Danielle, NY says:

    Don’t miss the pictures and stories of Jeroen’s third day at the Madrid Zoo, his encounter with mommy Hua Zui Ba, the construction of the wooden crib for the cubs, their debut in the crib, the snow in Madrid and plenty more. All that with a lot of beautiful pictures. www(dot)giantpandazoo(dot)com/panda/http:/

  46. Deborah (No. Calif) says:

    #40 Panda Team: Woo-hoo! Now that sounds reassuring!!! How much we would miss our SDZ pandas if they were all to go away. It’s hard enough watching the ones we’ve seen born and raised as they are sent back to their homeland. 🙁 I will be seeing them in the flesh in a couple of weeks, and I can’t wait… 😉 It will be fun to see all the changes that have been made since I last saw them in May of this year.

  47. Amanda says:

    #44 Pandafan#2 – You can view Mei Xiang and Tian Tian on the National Zoo panda cam. Ya Ya and Le Le can be seen on the Memphis Zoo panda cam. I also view the CMZ Pandas in Thailand at: http://linping(dot)truelife(dot)com (which comes with sound). They have made improvements to their cam and I can now watch the pandas with a full screen. Happy Panda viewing 🙂

  48. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi, Pandafan#2 (#44)! I can answer your question about pandacams. There are 2 more US zoos that have pandas and pandacams. On the Memphis Zoo website, there is one pandacam that shows Le Le (female) and Ya Ya (male); it’s on 24/7 every day. On the National Zoo website, there are alot of animal cams for you to see and watch during the day and nite; all of them 24/7 everyday. After getting on the NZ website, click on Animals for a drop down menu, then click on animal cams on that menu. Once you get on that page, there’s a list of all of the animal cams that NZ has available on the left side of the page, and close to the bottom of that list is the Pandacam and you can click on that. That link will get you to the panda page where the cam is located at, and there are 2 of them. Pandacam I is available for 10 minutes to watch Mei Xiang (female), Pandacam II is available for 15 minutes to watch Tian Tian (male). When the time limit is up, just hit the refresh button, and the cam will come back up online. Both of the NZ pandacams are available 24/7 everyday. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are on their last month of their 10 year loan from China, and we are all waiting very anxiously on any announcement that will either keep Mei and Tian in DC, or that the 2 pandas will go back home to China. That announcement should be coming soon.

    NZ’s Mei Xiang is the mother of Tai Shan, her only panda cub who was born in 2005. Tai Shan went to China in February, 2010. Mei Xiang has had artificial inseminations in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 all of which led to psuedopregnancies, no panda cub. Memphis Zoo’s Le Le has had 2 AI’s in 2008 and 2009. She was found to be pregnant both times, but before she would be able to give birth, she miscarried both cubs. There has not been any news of Le Le coming into estrus at all in 2010, so we are still waiting on her to reach that cycle. Le Le has had a very funny, unusual history of not going into estrus a year after the last estrus cycle. She is a very unpredictable panda lady, and that has given the keepers, vets, and researchers at Memphis Zoo some frustration about that, but at the same time, they are hopeful that Le Le will have a baby panda soon.

    Hope that this will help you out, Pandafan#2! There are other pandacams around the world that you can find some links to. You can get on Pandas Live On website, and there is a list of pandacams in different zoos in the USA and around the world that you can click on to watch pandas. Some foreign places that have pandacams are Adelaide Zoo, Australia; Schoenbrunn Zoo, Austria; Chiang Mai Zoo, Thailand; just to name a few of them. Have fun watching pandas! Enjoy!!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  49. PandaLover says:

    pandafan# 2. There is a Memphis Zoo panda cam, National Zoo Panda Cam – both zoos with Pandas located in the US.

  50. Frances in NYC says:

    Lucy #22–I agree with Fonsia #42–Bei Chuan is such a sweet-looking panda. I hope she continues to recover–send her hugs from me!

  51. Joy :) says:

    Great story so far, thanks for sharing! I’ve been sick the last few weeks but seeing videos and pictures of Su and ZZ have done miracles for my mood in the midst of the illnesses. Eagerly awaiting part 3.

    Joy 🙂

  52. Frances in NYC says:

    Pandafan#2-#42–check out http://www(dot) Look on the right side of the page and scroll down–you’ll see a list of pandacams. Happy viewing!

  53. Danielle, NY says:

    #44 Pandafan#2 – Here is some info that might be of interest to you and everybody else.

    For all the pandacams in the USA on one site:


    For the pandacams in Adelaide, Australia:


    You can also go to pandanews(dot)org/pandacam and find all the pandacam sites around the world.

  54. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the update, Gaylene. Glad to know that all 5 of you had a smooth flight. I look forward to Part III, and hopefully learning why these two girls were not accompanied to their final destination by their US keepers, but by new Chinese keepers. I also look forward to an update on how they are doing now that they are out of quarantine.

  55. Margaret says:

    I am very excited that I finally found an update about Basi the panda that was on a 100 day visit to SDZ when I visited in September, 1987. She celebrated her 30th birthday on July 11, 2010. If I am not mistaken she is the oldest, or next to the oldest known to be living panda. She was a special and beautiful panda in 1987, and she still is 25 years later.


    “Thirty-year-old giant panda Basi eats on her birthday at a panda base in Fuzhou, Fujian province, on July 11, 2010.

    More than thirty teachers and students from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan came to visit Basi on Sunday. Basi’s thirty years of life are equivalent to a human’s one hundred years, proving her to be a lucky bear.”

  56. Margaret says:

    Update on Basi – PandasLiveOn article says Basi’s birthday celebration was Nov 13, 2010.

    They also have some great photos of the event. http://www(dot)pandasliveon(dot)com/giantpandas/2010/11/dear-sweet-ba-si-and-her-birthday-celebration(dot)html

  57. Pat in Nevada says:

    I am reading these installments with tears in my eyes as I miss ZZ and Su Lin so very much.

    But!!! also so very glad and happy to read that all went so smoothly and that the girls were not stressed or frightened.

    I do miss you girls 🙁

    We hope to go out and visit your Papa, Mama, and little brother this spring/summer again ♥

  58. Marie says:

    Lucy #22: Bei is a beauty and looks so utterly sweet. I pray she continues to recover. She is indeed a special girl.

  59. Danielle, NY says:

    It has continued to snow in Vienna and mommy Yang Yang met daddy Long Hui outside for the first time since the birth of their second son Fu Hu, enjoyed each other company and were eating bamboo together. These two are such a good match!!


    From the video it seems that Fu Hu will be out of the den very soon, if he has anything to say about it… In the last video you can also see Yang Yang and Long Hui inside. The article is in German but you can get the English translation by clicking on the American flag on the right hand side.

  60. kat wilson says:

    Gaylene, you and all involved are my heros, with taking excellent care of our girls while going through this very stressful chapter in their lives. All this and the added emotions of what was actually taking place, giving our girls over and then having to return with empty arms.

    Thank you for sharing, it really helps, reading your words help while I, we, are still really dealing with our loss.

    Cheers to you!

  61. Amanda says:

    Looks like Bai Yun and Yun Zi are taking their naps before lunch comes around. Over at CMZ, Lin Ping has been at the milk bar for nearly 20 minutes. LH tried getting up once but LP wasn’t giving up and momma layed back down again for another nursing session.

  62. Danielle, NY says:

    #55 and #56 Margaret – We did post quite a lot of information about Ba Si’s 30th birthday when it happened on November 13, just look at previous blog. You can find quite a lot of pictures posted by Chet on Flickr, she was there.

    Leo uu was also there and just posted more pictures of Ba Si taken on Friday:

  63. Kathy in CT says:

    I just took in my afternoon look at Sir Gao… It appears he is looking a little more “roly” as in “poly” in the midline area as he ambles along- Now, I wonder how that happened, Gao ???? 🙂 Thanks to all in the blog for the current and very informative updates. As always, it is a very nice way to finish off a weekend!

  64. Mary from Brooklyn says:

    At 15:52 SDZ time, Yun climbs up to his hammock, dragging a stalk of bamboo behind. Remember when ZZ used to do the same thing. Ah, the fond memory of it all.

  65. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Hi Weegee: I was watching a bit of the Weekly HiLights of Ah Ping. The family seem to be injoying their outdoor exhibits! I was curious about a couple things though. They were showing 2 tubular type food items on sticks… what were those? And a peacock was in one of the exhibits.. I’m thinking the bird wasn’t a “live enrichment” item? maybe just flew in there by accident? I think these happened on the 2nd and 3rd….Any more news about Ah Ping staying with the zoo? Thanks! Dianna

  66. Lisa in Maine says:

    If you need snow for the pandas, we have plenty here in northern Maine, just send some trucks and we will give you all you want!!!!! In fact, I am sure we could spare some for all the animals who love it.

    Who wants to see Yun Zi and Bai play together in the snow? And don’t you think Gao Gao would love snow in his new enclosure????

  67. Susan H. says:

    Just reading about it brings tears….I miss all of them babies so!

  68. Toni says:

    I just love the way you write these. I can just picture exactly what you type. Thank you for that!
    Also..did anyone see this? www (dot) guardian (dot) co (dot) uk/world/gallery/2010/dec/06/panda-researchers-wear-panda-costume#/?picture=369420405&index=2

    Kind of interesting. I happen to like the human contact that the SDZ has with the pandas. 🙂

  69. Margaret says:

    #62, Danielle, thanks for bringing me up to date. I must have missed it. Glad to know she is still alive and had a great party. She has a special place in my heart since she was the first panda I saw in person.

  70. pandafan-north says:

    #68 Toni – thanks for the link – that is very interesting. I’ve wondered how they are able to keep track of Cao Cao’s cub. Now we know.

  71. Gaylene Thomas says:

    #39 Dianna from Ohio

    The move from the panda area occurred in the afternoon and the other pandas were conditioned to having the forklift and vehicles on the service road behind them. We did not notice any nervous behavior from them. I did bring a donut tire, but I believe it was brown…and awkward to pack! There was also a PVC tube with holes. Keeper Kathy Hawk helped me choose the toys. The packing list also included: 4 plastic enrichment items, honey, leaf eater biscuits, shredded paper, and 5 gallons of drinking water.