Since Bai Yun is doing extremely well, I thought you might want an update on the kids. Su Lin, now 3 1/2 years old, is growing like a weed, already outweighing her father at 181 pounds (82 kilograms). She definitely takes after mom’s side! We are conducting hormone studies with Su Lin to see exactly where she’s at, maturity-wise. Female pandas can come into their first estrus when they are four to five years old. Looking more like her mother every day, she’s our next big hope for breeding!
Zhen Zhen, our little one, is now 20 months old and she’s (are you ready for it?) almost 100 pounds (45 kilograms)! She’s doing very well living on her own. Learning to stay outside more and more, she’s living next door to her big sister, Su Lin. We haven’t really seen a lot of interaction between the two up in the trees, like we did with Su Lin and Mei Sheng, but Zhen Zhen is quite interested in the bear on the other side of her wall.
Since Bai Yun and Gao Gao are so close to a possible mating, it’s very important that the girls stay in the classroom exhibits, away from mom and dad. Pandas usually have a mature scent gland at three years old; if Su Lin were to come into mom’s enclosure and scent, we could confuse Gao Gao. But as of Saturday, the researchers and keepers were very hopeful that Bai and Gao could be put together for breeding very soon. Keep checking the blogs, and check out the Panda Cam!
Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.