We will be taking down Yun Zi’s current climbing structure to make room for the 6-foot (1.8 meter) base of the artificial tree. The tree will take approximately four weeks to build on site (yes, it will be built in the exhibit!) as long as weather conditions are ideal (no rain). As a keeper, I really enjoy exhibit renovations, and to help design something like this tree is amazing. I am really excited to see how all the pandas will enjoy it and use it (as you know, we sometimes rotate the pandas into different exhibit areas).
There is a lot of preparation that is being done to Yun Zi’s exhibit currently, so please be patient with us and understand that he will have to be off exhibit during this entire process. Gao Gao will remain on exhibit as long as he seems comfortable during the building phase of the tree (Gao Gao’s exhibit is right next to Yun Zi’s). Yun Zi will be in the indoor bedrooms close to his keepers, and during the day he will have access to the outdoor habitat next to Bai Yun and Xiao Liwu’s north exhibit. When you are visiting Mom and cub, look up in the trees and you might see Yun Zi!
Jennifer Becerra is a senior panda keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Panda Cub: The Den.