Beautiful Bai Yun

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This is Bai Yun in 2005 and shows the bamboo leaves.

This is Bai Yun in 2005 with some leafy bamboo.

I sometimes spend way too much time in front of my computer! This morning, I decided to check on my panda friends in person, rather than on Panda Cam, something I don’t do often enough. The Zoo was just opening for the day, so I was one of the first people to enter the panda viewing area, and it was cool and peaceful.

Mr. Wu was high in the tree–I think guests riding our Skyfari aerial tram could see him better than I could! But mama Bai Yun was right up front, sitting on her haunches and contentedly eating breakfast. It struck me hard how gorgeous she is! And how large she is! She had a huge pile of bamboo “tips” to her right. By tips, I mean long, thin branches with rich-green leaves. She would grab a clump of the branches and, with one sweeping motion of her mouth, peel the leaves right off so that they stuck out of the side of her mouth briefly before she swallowed them. In any other creature, it would have looked comical, but there is a grace and confidence about Bai Yun that inspires admiration and awe.

I stood watching her as she calmly ate in this fashion. She paused and looked me right in the eye (be still, my heart!), and then she continued her meal. I finally tore myself away from her to see what Yun Zi was doing in the enclosure next door. He was on top of the artificial den, flat on his back and sound asleep. But that’s okay: Bai Yun and I shared a beautiful summer morning. What a great way to start the day. I may have to do this more often!

Debbie Andreen is an associate editor for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, New Koala Exhibit Now Open.