Big Guy on the Block

Gao Gao is fueling up for breeding season. Little does he know....

Gao Gao is fueling up for breeding season. Little does he know….

As some San Diego Zoo guests are finding out, Gao Gao is the only panda out for viewing in the main exhibit currently (Bai Yun and her cub, Xiao Liwu continue to charm guests in the north exhibit until noon each day). As construction workers continue building Yun Zi’s artificial tree (which looks great so far!), Gao Gao has been entertaining us with his usual eating and sleeping, and a little extra movement right now.

Many of you know that Bai Yun would typically begin showing some hormonal behaviors as early as March for breeding season, and Gao Gao is letting us know that he is ready. He is currently eating more and gaining weight to show off to that gorgeous female he sees once a year. Of course he will not be breeding this year as Bai Yun is with a cub and not cycling. So the big question everyone’s been asking lately is, “What will Gao Gao do?” This year Gao Gao will just have to cope, and soon he’ll realize that he doesn’t smell a female in estrus.

As for next year’s breeding opportunities, we can’t say. To the best of our knowledge there hasn’t been a female panda to give birth over the age of 21, and Bai Yun will be 22 this coming September. We have observed an older male, Shi Shi, but watching a female for her entire breeding life has taught us so much about what is normal for Bai Yun. She is, after all, a big part of Gao Gao’s success as a breeding male—she is responsive and an amazing mother to her offspring.

Come see us soon, but do not be upset if you see Yun Zi off exhibit as his tree is being constructed!

Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Pandas: The Big Boys.

RELATED POSTS