Since I work in different areas around Sun Bear Forest and the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo, several days can go by before I see Bai Yun and her cub, during which a lot can change. It has been such a privilege to be able to see what a great mother bear she is and how handling her cub can sometimes be so gentle at times and other times look a bit rough. No matter how she is handling him, we all know that she has proven herself five times before that she knows what she is doing.
I know that there isn’t sound on Panda Cam, so unless you are near the den, you wouldn’t know that the times she is being gentle with him he is often just “going with it,” being quiet and letting Mom do what she needs to do to keep him clean and healthy. That being said, sometimes I don’t have to even be near the den to know that she is dealing with a cub throwing a tantrum! At those times, for whatever reason, he doesn’t want Mom to clean him, and he isn’t shy about letting the world know. But again, Mom knows best, and she has to make sure that he continues to be healthy, so she has to keep him clean. He will wiggle about in protest, and now that he is getting stronger, he can really wiggle! Throughout his tantrum, Bai Yun is diligent in her mission to keep her cub clean and healthy, and usually by the end he is worn out and ready for a nap.
Speaking of naps, he does do a lot of napping, but as of late we have seen him practicing his crawling and walking outside the den more often. Of course, after a big practice session, whether his mom is right next to him or resting nearby, he will have to take a nice long nap to recover. Before too long, he should be strong and big enough to go on more adventures outside of the den and even outside of the bedroom. Bai Yun has access to the den, a bedroom, a sunroom, and a garden room, all of which she could carry the cub to at anytime or maybe help him with a nudge or a boost here and there.
This is certainly an exciting time as the cub becomes more independent with each passing day. Although regardless of how independent he is, Mom will still be there to remind him she knows best!
Jennifer Chapman is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Exam 12: Confident and Curious.