That Right-Hand Exhibit

Astute watchers of Panda Cam will have noticed that Su Lin has replaced Gao Gao in the right-hand viewing area at the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station; but what is it about that place? During the recent cold rains, not two days into her tenure there, we were treated to a wild round of rain romping. Since it was a holiday week, there were lots of visitors there in spite of the rain, and her antics even brought the keepers out to watch the fun. It has been a while since Su Lin was inspired to this kind of swinging, climbing foul-weather play, and as she continues to get bigger and stronger, it becomes more elaborate and enjoyable for all of us.

After such an energetic morning, one would expect even a young panda to “lie low” and rest up the next day, but once again, Su Lin was on a tear. You may recall her rambunctious roamings up and down the trees earlier this year, resulting in a bamboo tug-of-war with her keepers and some immediate, major tree removal and pruning to keep her safe (see Ellie’s blog, Decorating Diva Strikes Again). Let it not be said that any amount of pruning can foil Su Lin’s efforts to reach the bamboo of her dreams; she was at it again, this time dangling from the small pine tree, which was bowing under her weight, to reach that elusive but tempting bamboo at the back in the keeper area. Oh, she tried the backward-arching reach from the poplar to get to the plantings atop the separating wall, without success. She had the same result for the trailing bamboo hanging into the exhibit, stretch as she might. It seemed as if the size of the pine tree might have prevented her from reaching, but no, this clever youngster began to reel in the tall shaft by grabbing the leaves and branches and hauling, hand over hand, until she grasped the elusive culm. Suspended halfway between tree and ‘boo, it took a quick scramble to execute a recovery, but it was time to alert her keepers. (It is, after all, all about her safety, as much as I hate to spoil her fun.)

So our “Decor Diva” continues her tradition of inspiring change in her locations. We’re watching with interest as her activities slowly but surely crush the newly planted bushes and wondering what else can inspire her to mischief.

Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

Moderator’s note: We are thrilled to announce that as of 3:55 p.m. this afternoon we have every dollar we need to fund the new bamboo cooler for our giant pandas. We can’t thank all of you enough for helping us reach our goal of $112,550 in just two weeks! In the coming months, we will be sure to post pictures of the bamboo cooler construction and installation. From all of us here – especially from Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, Gao Gao, and Bai Yun – thank you all again and have a Happy New Year!

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