It’s been almost three weeks since panda cub Xiao Liwu’s public debut, and he is doing a great job learning how to be a zoo panda. Xiao Liwu has become an early riser, waking up early with his mom, Bai Yun, ready to make his way out to the north exhibit. We have no problem shifting him out in the morning: he eagerly follows Bai Yun through the shift tunnel out to the exhibit, often passing his mother in the tunnel and arriving to the exhibit before his mom has time to catch up!
Once out, Xiao Liwu enjoys climbing on anything he can find: logs, toys, Mom. He continues to explore his environment, perfecting his climbing skills and nibbling on bamboo sticks. Such activity makes our boy sleepy, so Xiao Liwu tends to find a nice place to nap mid-morning. Oftentimes he ends up choosing the moat, much to the dismay of his fans, since he isn’t visible down there (unless you’re watching on Panda Cam). But lately, little Wu has been soaking up the sun on the climbing structure or napping on top of the log.
Sitting in the sun makes a panda quite hot, and you may notice Xiao Liwu panting. He will learn to seek out shade when he gets hot; this is a process all of our babies have gone through. Xiao Liwu does love water, and we have seen him playing in his water tub and the drinker. Soon we will fill the pool with a small amount of water for him to splash around in.
After a full day out on exhibit, our biggest challenge has been getting little Xiao Liwu back into his bedroom in the afternoon. Bai Yun is always ready to shift in for dinner; Mr. Wu is usually sacked out in the moat or in the climbing structure in the afternoon. Because of her trust in her keepers, we are fortunate to be able to shift Bai Yun into her bedroom for dinner without her son, giving keepers the opportunity to wake Xiao Liwu up and encourage him to come in.
Once awake and in the shift tunnel, Mr. Wu tends to roll around and play in the tunnel on his way to his mother. Bai Yun waits patiently in back for her son to make his way in. She seems to know he needs to learn to shift in as well as he shifts out in the morning.
All in all, our panda boy is doing an excellent job learning to be a zoo panda, and we are very proud of him and his amazing mother.
Elizabeth Simmons is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Big Day for Mr. Wu.