Pandas: Waiting….

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Yun Zi takes a trek of his own!

While we’re all anxious and excited for Panda Trek to be completed here at the San Diego Zoo, it’s waiting time here at the Giant Panda Research Station. The weather’s been unseasonably warm and humid for San Diego, and the construction continues.

Panda Trek is taking shape. Day by day, week by week, the structures and enclosures are taking form. It’s going to be exciting to see it and the resident creatures all come together. In the meantime, the takins, a red panda, and the vipers can still be seen in their current enclosures around the Zoo. When the time comes, they can easily be moved into their new homes, since these will be pristine exhibits previously unoccupied by any other animals. This will eliminate the need for any quarantine time; remember when Bai Yun and Shi Shi moved into their new homes nearly 15 years ago? The areas will sit ready and waiting for their new “homeowners.”

The weather has been warm, but each bear has the option of retreating in an air-conditioned bedroom, resting under misters, or enjoying a dip in the pool or a pile of ice, and our animal care staff and panda narrators monitor the pandas’ behavior at all times. Gao Gao stayed in his indoor/outdoor bedroom suite within the research station for several days, keeping cool and comfortable.

Giving Yun Zi access to both sides of the main viewing area has given him an enriching experience; all those interesting “Gao” smells to check out and a space to revisit and expand his horizons. And Bai Yun, with her shortened hours in the North Exhibit, has access to both the outdoor space and her suite. She tends to eat outdoors, then retreats to the AC to nap, so visitors may or may not see her outdoors, depending on HER personal schedule. As of July 5, there are no indications of a pregnancy, although based on the calendar, and nothing else, she’s being “ultrasounded” twice a week now. Again, it’s about the time of year and her past history of birth times, no other reason. Yet we’re also waiting for any signs of a possible pregnancy, should they appear. As always, the Queen is in charge!

This week’s earlier events have proven no challenge to our pandas (see post Our Pandas are Fine). Today, the debris has been cleared, the area cleaned, and the pandas were napping peacefully through the morning. We’re still playing “musical bears,” moving them among exhibits as construction demands, but they are shifting with ease. The bears are alright!

Dragons and acrobats abound during Nightime Zoo: China Celebration in anticipation of our expanded Trek. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding; good things are worth waiting for. And hooray! Su Lin has given birth! We’re all “grandpandas” again, and Gao Gao’s important genetics have been passed to a new generation of giant pandas!

Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator and educator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Yun Zi Rolls On.