Ferocious Interns, Endangered Bears

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Yun Zi

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

There are eight species of bear all across the world. On our adventure with Suzanne Hall at the San Diego Zoo, we learned more about one of these bears, and then we saw a few more species. We specifically learned about the giant panda and were able to observe its food, habitat, and learned more about what is being done at the Zoo to save this species.

Attentive interns listen to a presentation by Suzanne Hall about her job as a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research in the Applied Animal Ecology Division.


The pandas enjoy a fresh supply of bamboo, and this refrigerated room makes that possible. This bamboo is grown all across the Zoo and the Safari Park. A single panda can eat as much as 50 pounds of bamboo a day, so the zookeepers need a ready supply for them.


Ms. Hall showed us the stalk of the bamboo that the pandas are actually able to eat. The panda is able to strip off the outer stem of the bamboo to get to the culm, which is the yummy inside part the pandas love.

This is Bai Yun, and right now she’s taking a nap, which pandas do if they’re not eating bamboo. Ms. Hall explained to us how important enrichment is for these bears. Bai Yun is given an ample supply of frozen treats, toys, and various scents, her favorite being cologne.

Napping on a tree, just like his mom, Bai Yun, is Yun Zi, whose name means “son of cloud.” His favorite spots are his log, den, and hammock.

Can you spot the endangered Bornean sun bear? No? Neither could we, but this picture is a perfect example of what we learned from Ms.Hall about how the Zoo architects recreate a natural habitat for the animals, allowing us to see them as we would in the wild.

The grizzly bear is part of the brown bear family, which is one of the remaining eight species of bear we learned about from Ms. Hall. It has a spectacular sense of smell and, despite their reputation as predators, grizzlies actually get most of their nutrients from nuts, berries, roots, and insects.