It was another calm and peaceful morning in Panda Trek today. My goal? To find out what Yun Zi’s been up to! Kathy Hawk, senior keeper, filled me in while cleaning the takins’ large enclosure. I tell you—these keepers are great at multi-tasking.
Xiao Liwu was way up high in the pine tree, Bai Yun was gracefully draped on the branch above the den, and Yun Zi was sleeping on the ground facing the pool and surrounded by fresh stalks of bamboo. When he wakes up, all he’ll have to do is turn over for his next snack!
Kathy said Yun Zi, who will be four years old next month, seems to enjoy being back in the main viewing area. He loves his swing (a round, hard-plastic disc suspended from branches), but it is one of many activity items that rotate in and out for him to play with so no one thing gets too “old.” He also likes to pull out the plants that adorn his new artificial tree, but Kathy said it’s no problem for keepers to put them back in place. (He sure has THEM trained, doesn’t he?)
Our big boy is mellowing out, but he is now our best bamboo eater with a typical teen-age appetite. New for our pandas: banana- and cinnamon-flavored biscuits! They still contain all the nutrients of our standard biscuits for leaf-eating animals, but with the added taste of banana or cinnamon. These new biscuits have been a big hit with Bai Yun and Yun Zi—they LOVE them!—but Gao Gao prefers to eat them only when drizzled with honey. On a side note, Kathy shared that the Zoo’s tufted deer absolutely love the banana-flavored biscuits. Who knew?!
Debbie Andreen is an associate editor for San Diego Zoo Global.