We are all excited to be celebrating another anniversary for Gao Gao, as this is his 10th year here at the San Diego Zoo. Gao Gao likes his parties to be low-key and with his close human friends. We will be spoiling him with frozen applesauce treats, his favorite smells, and toys. He enjoys cinnamon spice, apple pie spice, and any musky scents. His favorite toys are the ones he can sleep in full of soft bedding.
At 23 years old, Gao Gao is doing quite well for his age. He is weighing a consistent 165 pounds (75 kilograms) and is still climbing like a young panda. He had a dental check up on January 8; they had to replace the bridge on his back molars. We have changed his food preparation to reduce the wear on his teeth and now offer him bamboo bread (made with bamboo ingredients). This is where he is getting most of his calories. We also pre-cut his favorite bamboo stalks into thinner and shorter pieces to make it easier for him to chew.
As to Gao Gao’s famous webbed feet, just his rear paws have the webbing, which is a little longer than the webbing we have between our fingers and is not noticeable unless he has a veterinary exam. He is also famous for the long hair on his rear paws: we call them his slippers.
We are happy for Gao Gao to reach this milestone in his life. He has been an exceptional mate to Bai Yun and is the father of five cubs. He continues to amaze us with how smart he is and with his gentle nature. All of his cubs have followed in his footsteps. And personally, I would say that Xiao Liwu is most like his father. So here’s to 10 great years with Gao Gao and, hopefully, many more to come!
Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Thankful for Panda.