Pandas: Main Viewing Open!

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Yun Zi kicks back to nibble on some bamboo in the main viewing area.

Yun Zi kicks back to nibble on some bamboo in the main viewing area.

Wednesday evening, we were able to open up the main viewing area of Panda Trek at the San Diego Zoo for our guests again. The walkway is now giving our guests two opportunities to view the pandas: you can walk down the front row and loop into the back row before exiting the exhibit, rather than having to choose one row or the other. The two enclosures are pretty much the same, except for one thing: the grass is finally greener and longer! Right before we began construction on the walkway, you may remember that we were able to lay some sod out, and in the several weeks that the bears have not been in the main viewing area, the grass has gotten nice and lush for the bears to rest in or play in.

Yun Zi was the first to get out into the enclosure, and I know many of you are looking forward to being able to view him again. Currently, Yun Zi weighs about 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and is looking great. Yun Zi seemed comfortable back out in the public eye, and our guests got some great views of him. From past experience, I know that the next few days will be interesting to watch as he explores the exhibit again, scent marks the walls and structures, and, of course, messes up the grass.

Bai Yun and her cub, Xiao Liwu, were brought inside yesterday as soon as we got the word that the main viewing area was ready. Keepers took advantage of the cub being out of a tree and were able to shuffle him inside with Mom last night rather than waiting until this morning, because we all know that if that cub gets up into the tree and doesn’t want to come down, we will be out of luck for viewing! Bai Yun and the cub will be given access to the main exhibit today. Keepers spent the early part of the morning making sure the exhibit was baby proofed before allowing mother and cub access. This entails making sure that branches are not too overgrown or too close to the outer area.

The keepers have put enrichment out that they know the cub enjoys in an attempt to keep him down closer to the ground, but remember that he has a mind of his own and that panda cubs do love to be up high in the trees at this age. So, if you are unable to get a decent view of him in person, or on Panda Cam,, please be patient.

Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.