Exam 12: Confident and Curious

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Keeper Liz carries the 100-day-old cub.

Today’s panda exam found our black-and-white bundle of joy full of energy and with a new sense of confidence! His steadily increasing mobility, along with his confidence, made the cub seem more curious about all the people and cameras here for his weekly exam than in the past. There were two of us keepers sharing the amazing privilege of assisting the veterinarian and nutritionist for his exam. Liz helped with weighing the cub (4.2 kilograms or 9.2 pounds) and the veterinary portion of his exam, while I assisted the nutritionist taking his measurements.

During his exam we often observed him crawling and even taking a few steps toward someone or a camera. A couple of times he looked up at me with an alertness I hadn’t seen before and then crawled closer. Talk about a melt-your-heart moment! Of course, even with his new sense of confidence, he wasn’t afraid to make his voice heard. His wonderful mother, Bai Yun, heard it all but didn’t show any sense of concern as she ate her breakfast in her sunroom.

Once the exam was over, and I returned the cub to his den and exited the area, returning access to Bai Yun. He got up, crawled to the edge, and rolled out, perhaps not ready for his adventure to end or to look for his mom. Maybe some Panda Cam viewers were lucky enough to see what happened next: he turned around to try to get back into the den, placed his front paws on the short ledge, and tried to pull himself up, but no luck. Fortunately, Mom was right there and ever-so-gently placed her paw on his bottom for a little boost. We are all confident that he won’t need that boost from Mom much longer!

Jennifer Chapman is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, My Moment With our Black and White Celebrity.

Note: Photos from today’s exam are now posted on our Panda Photo Gallery. Enjoy!

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