I was the fortunate one to help out with Xiao Liwu’s 14th exam on November 20. We have been thinking about nicknames for the little guy, and most seem to like Liwu or Mr. Wu for this newly active one. This exam was a challenging one, as Mr. Wu is starting to crawl more and climb on his keepers. For this exam, we decided to let him explore some new toys, such as a black Kong chew toy, a green ball, and some bamboo leaves. He wasn’t too sure about the Kong. He seemed to like to look at it, but when he touched it, he got a little nervous. He is just learning what different substrates feel like: two weeks ago he felt grass for the first time in Bai Yun’s off-exhibit garden room, and he wasn’t sure so he cried for his mom to pick him up.
Mr. Wu is working on perfecting his skills of climbing in and out of the den on his own. He will have to get more comfortable out of the den and in the garden room before he makes his exhibit debut. We are excited to share this little cub with all his fans in the future. As keepers, we rely on Bai Yun’s cues to let us know when Xiao Liwu is ready to go out into the exhibit. She likes to make sure all her cubs can walk and climb up a tree before they go into a bigger space. We are hoping he will be available for viewing sometime in January.
Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Panda Exam 9: Crawling.