Birdsong filled the chilly morning air, and we spoke in hushed tones. “Has he been awake? Has he moved at all?” Such were the burning questions as Bai Yun rested comfortably in the fork of a tree and her beloved son Yun Zi slept like a log curled up in a ball on a low-rider hammock below her. If he would just stretch or lift his head, I knew I’d melt with cuteness, but alas, I had to settle for a sweet little black furry ear poking up. Employees came and went, grateful for the “sneak peek” even if there wasn’t much to peek at except two slumbering forms.
Researchers stood by, clipboards in hand, their timers chiming every two minutes for panda behaviors to be jotted down. The “Sleep” column was filling up fast. Quite an activity budget for the morning! The street sweeper went by, brushes twirling, motor roaring, and I secretly hoped it would rouse Yun Zi from his slumber. Nope. The first Skyfari car silently passed overhead, and I knew we were on borrowed time. As the Balboa Park clock tower began its stroke-of-nine song, I silently wished that morning toll would be just the tickle to wake the sleeping bears. But, no. Not even a twitch. The Zoo may be open at 9 a.m. but that doesn’t mean the cub’s eyes will be open! We filed out quietly, leaving the bears to their dreams. Maybe tomorrow we’ll catch them playing…or sleeping.
Karyl Carmignani is a staff writer for the San Diego Zoo.
Note: Yun Zi’s public debut is Thursday, January 7. The classroom exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to noon each day. But remember: there are no guarantees that Yun Zi will be awake!