This summer, panda conservation efforts reached a major milestone: the population of pandas in zoos and breeding facilities reached 300 individuals. This goal number, one set years ago by a group of international scientists, is believed to be the point at which the captive population will be a self-sustaining entity capable of acting as a buffer against whatever difficulties might be experienced by the wild members of the species. Three hundred individuals should provide the panda with the resilience to survive even if the wild population disappears.
Archive for the 'Giant Pandas' Category
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 2.
I have decided that flying with a giant panda is the way to go! Fifteen hours go by very quickly when you have a two incredible pandas to visit with and take care of. Zhen Zhen and Su Lin were troupers throughout the journey. The “What ifs” and worries of what might happen were subdued by the natural behaviors these two young pandas demonstrated in conditions far from routine. The dedicated daily care given to Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, combined with the wonderful travel training efforts provided by the keepers, set this journey up to be a success!
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.
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.
I did my best to suppress some of the excitement in my voice as I answered “Yes” to the question put before me by San Diego Zoo Associate Curator Curby Simerson in August 2010: “Would you be willing to accompany the pandas on their trip to China?” My efforts to minimize an overly eager reply manifested into a short, quick, loud, “Yes!” It was an honor and privilege to be offered this unique assignment. The many details of it had yet to be worked out, resulting in several months of anxiety and hesitancy to make any personal travel plans.
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.
Friday’s reopening of our giant panda exhibits was a huge success! It was so nice to see Bai Yun, Yun Zi, and even Gao Gao exploring their new areas. Gao surprised us with his climbing skills: he really seemed to enjoy the new furniture!
Bai and Yun Zi were hysterical; we put out some loamex mulch in their cave, and they had so much fun rolling in the pile and getting very dirty! But that was not all: they entertained us by playing on the new climbing logs and exploring the new plants. I held my breath thinking little Yun Zi was going to go on a plant attack!
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.
Once a month I have the great honor of visiting the children’s ward at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Diego as part of the San Diego Zoo’s outreach program. It is truly a heartwarming experience for my colleagues and me. One month we had a great time and some extra help from our friend, Yvette McClain, who works in the Zoo’s Merchandising Department.
Tuesday, November 9, was “crane day” at the Giant Panda Research Station. No, not the feathered kind; they’re all waiting in the wings, so to speak, for our four-day Festival of Flight, November 11 to 14. Instead, it was heavy equipment day, starting in the wee hours of the morning. A large crane was moved into position in the panda canyon to do the heavy lifting for the panda exhibit renovation before the Zoo opened, and heavy lifting it was.
Wild brown and black bears are facing a bleak time of limited food availability in the coldest months of the year. For this reason, late in fall they engage in hyperphagia, compulsively eating anything they can get their paws on. This builds layers of fat that will be essential to keeping them warm and healthy through the upcoming winter. (more…)