Thanks to all of you for your concern about Bai Yun and her cub. Bai Yun did indeed take her youngster out into the sun room last night when she went out to feed. Our security staff, who check on the pandas several times each night after the San Diego Zoo is closed, found the cub resting comfortably on a pile of bamboo under the stars, with Mother a few feet away. All was fine, and all is fine again today.
In the next few days you might see Bai Yun with access to her garden room again. This is a natural step in the progression of the postpartum period. In future weeks, Bai Yun will begin separating herself from her youngster for more and more time, usually during periods of rest. She might head out to the garden room (Camera #15) for a nap while the cub remains behind in the den. If she wants to bring the little one with her, that is fine, too; you will notice we have placed a lair into the garden room should she want to deposit the cub there. Whether or not she uses it is her choice. A bed of fresh bamboo may be even more appealing than a fabricated lair! Again, it’s up to Bai Yun.
Please remember that about this time with Zhen Zhen, Bai Yun was experimenting with taking the cub out of the den (see post, There’s No Place like Home). Recall also that the cub is no longer tiny and hairless but is covered with fur and a layer of fat built upon Bai Yun’s ample, rich milk. If the cub was unhappy, cold, or otherwise uncomfortable, it would vocalize its discontent, and we have never seen Bai Yun refuse to attend to a crying infant. We trust her to do what is right for her infant.
As always, staff is watching and responding to events that occur. But please be reassured that all is well, and Bai Yun is doing her usual fabulous job of caring for her infant. She is, after all, a “hero mother” now!
Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.