As our little Zhen Zhen is getting ready to leave her mother and go into a new world on her own, Bai Yun is getting ready for a different phase. Soon Bai Yun will be in the process of weaning herself away from her cub and beginning to focus on herself. Keepers are feeding Bai Yun more and more each day to compensate what the baby takes from mom’s food stash and to encourage Bai Yun to eat more and gain weight. Right now Bai Yun is nursing and competing with her growing cub for food, so gaining weight isn’t the easiest job right now.
Female giant pandas need to be at a good solid weight going into mating season. How much weight? Well, it can be different every time and for every female. A healthy weight is important for a healthy pregnancy.
What does our Gao Gao have to say about this? After Bai Yun for sure comes into her estrus, we will do what we refer to as a swap: the two adults will switch enclosures to enhance the estrus and to get Gao Gao in the mood. Gao Gao’s usual routine is to start putting on weight and scenting every area he can with his scent gland, located underneath his tail. Once our staff feels that Bai Yun and Gao Gao are ready to come face to face, they will open the “howdy” door.
We will be getting closer to that time, so keep checking the blogs and keep an ear open!
Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.
Note: We are celebrating Gao Gao’s birthday on Wednesday, January 21, not January 15 as noted earlier. This gives us more time to prepare a special cake and to make sure our photographer is on hand to record the happy occasion! We hope you’ll join us for his 19th birthday.