Springtime in Panda Canyon

It’s springtime in Panda Canyon, yet not much has changed in the last couple of months.

Bai Yun is doing quite well on exhibit and seems to be enjoying her alone time. Our majestic Mother Panda passed her physical with flying colors and is in excellent health for her age at 24. Now considered a geriatric panda, her keepers are making sure she continues to thrive. We always monitor our pandas’ health, and we’re especially watching Bai Yun’s teeth as she ages.

caption

Beautiful Bai Yun!

Bamboo, the mainstay of a panda’s diet, is considered a grass but grows into thick stalks with a rock-hard outer covering. To reach the delicious inner part of the stalk, a panda must break the stalk. No problem for giant pandas, which have the strongest jaws in the bear family! But all that crunching and munching can take its toll on the choppers. So, we keepers do our part to help out. As the bears age, we break their bamboo into smaller pieces using many different tools, such as a log smasher, hammers, sledge hammers, splitters, and hand clippers. Animals live longer lives in managed care due to excellent veterinary care, nutritionists, and their keepers. Bai Yun is also learning how to present her arm for blood pressure readings, so in the future we will be able to compare her numbers to those of our two males.

Xiao Liwu

Xiao Liwu’s got his bamboo technique down.

Xiao Liwu is growing into such a handsome boy, even though he still has a “cubby” side to him. He is now weighs 163 pounds (74 kilograms) and is almost the same size and weight as his father, Gao Gao. He may be growing up but he reminds us that he still is a teenager at times. He enjoys his playful times where he runs around the exhibit or hangs upside down from his crosswalk pretending he is going to fall. He watches out for when his keepers pass by and knows how to get extra bamboo if he wants it, too! He will toss his bamboo around or call to his keepers from the top of the artificial tree to get their attention. If he has been good and calm, he sometimes gets an apple tossed in his pool as an extra treat. It has been such an experience watching him grow up and see his personality. He will make his way to China, like his siblings, and hopefully will add to the genetic diversity for the future.

Gao Gao greatly enjoyed a recent "snow day."

Gao Gao greatly enjoyed a recent “snow day.”

Gao Gao is the most spoiled panda that we have. He is enjoying a non-viewable exhibit with access to his bedrooms all day. However, he is sometimes seen on Panda Camera from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (PDT). This is so his keepers can keep a close eye on him during the day as he ages, now that he is approximately 26 years old. He is still enjoying his bamboo bread and his smaller pieces of bamboo. He does have a playful side to him and calls to his keepers often. When he sees his keepers, he likes to bleat and call to them for back scratches. And it’s always hard to say no to him when he is looking at you sweetly! He has been enjoying pool time in his exhibit and also sleeping in his black tub filled with pine shavings.
Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous blog about pandas and other animals, Down Comes the Rain.

130 Comments

  1. RichardBam
  2. Katherine Kamphake
  3. Diana S
  4. Danielle
  5. Danielle
  6. Laura, Edward & Jasmine
  7. Patti
  8. Robert
  9. Cynthia
  10. Linda
  11. Panda Nation
  12. Panda Nation
  13. Panda Nation
  14. Panda Nation
  15. Panda Nation
  16. Jane
  17. Panda Nation
  18. Lindsay
  19. Jane
  20. Al
  21. Jim
  22. Janet
  23. Tulip
  24. Rebecca
  25. Jacke
  26. Lindsay
  27. Carolyn Hedrick
  28. Jane
  29. Gao Gao and Bai Yun
  30. Carolyn Hedrick
  31. Lindsay
  32. Paul and Emily
  33. Xiao Liwu
  34. Rosetta
  35. San Diego Pandas
  36. Lindsay
  37. Jane
  38. Samuel
  39. San Diego Pandas
  40. Mary
  41. Lindsay
  42. Jane
  43. Clive
  44. Rebecca
  45. Skeptic
  46. Nelly
  47. Jane
  48. Fly on the Wall
  49. Fly on the Wall
  50. Lindsay
  51. Panda Inc.
  52. Janet
  53. Panda Nation
  54. James
  55. Panda Nation
  56. Robert
  57. Gao Gao
  58. Gao Gao
  59. Rosetta
  60. Panda Nation
  61. Kelly
  62. Cynic
  63. KC
  64. Flynn
  65. Gao Gao, Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu
  66. Jane
  67. Gao Gao, Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu
  68. James
  69. Xiao Liwu
  70. Samuel
  71. San Diego Pandas
  72. Caroline
  73. Jane
  74. Jane
  75. Jane
  76. Clive
  77. Jim
  78. Alana Silvea
  79. Kelly
  80. Benjamin
  81. Al
  82. Alana Silvea
  83. Al
  84. Benjamin
  85. Jane
  86. Joni
  87. Jane
  88. Rebecca
  89. Jane
  90. Rosetta
  91. Xiao Liwu
  92. Jane
  93. Jane
  94. Alana Silvea
  95. Xiao Liwu
  96. Gao Gao and Bai Yun
  97. Jim
  98. Jane
  99. Jane
  100. Jane
  101. Panda Panda
  102. Nelly
  103. Fifi
  104. Robert
  105. al
  106. Linda
  107. Xiao Liwu
  108. Samuel
  109. Jane
  110. Jane
  111. Alana Silvea
  112. Shaza
  113. Keeper Jennifer
  114. Jane
  115. Jane
  116. Black-and-White Lover
  117. Panda Di
  118. James
  119. Cynthia
  120. Lynn(Scotland UK)
  121. Flynn
  122. Tulip
  123. Darlene
  124. Panda Nation
  125. Laurence (France)
  126. Darlene Draper
  127. Michele Burgess