As we’ve been anticipating, the great panda rotation has begun. Zhen Zhen has replaced her mother in the left-hand enclosure, and Bai Yun has been moved back into “her” area, the “classroom” area off exhibit that was her first home when she arrived here nearly 13 years ago. Bai Yun’s weight is up to around 220 pounds/100 kilograms, but whether this is due to a possible pregnancy, a pseudopregnancy, or the ability to eat uninterrupted by a persistent cub is anyone’s guess. We’re still watching and waiting; it’s been pretty standard procedure in the past to move her to the back soon after mating season, so we know nothing definite one way or the other.
Zhen Zhen will probably remain on the left enclosure for quite a long time. As a young bear, she doesn’t adapt quite as quickly as her parents and older sister, and visitors still come hoping to see “the baby,” so this should please her many fans throughout the summer. Su Lin and Gao Gao will be alternating in the right-hand enclosure every two weeks. And before you even ask, we don’t know when the “howdy door” will open between Su Lin and her sister, but it’s being planned for later this year – all things in their proper time (which around here means “when it’s right for the pandas!”). Those of you who remember how much fun it was when Mei Sheng and Su Lin “discovered” one another are no doubt anxious for this to happen, and it will when the time is right.
While it is in an off-limits area, I discovered that the new bamboo chiller can be seen from above by taking the Skyfari aerial tram ride across the Zoo. The prep area is also visible and it is possible to see the keepers at work from that aerial vantage point. It affords a great view of Balboa Park and downtown San Diego, as well as an overview of many of the exhibits.
Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.