About Author: Alyssa Medeiros

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Pandas: A Beautiful Day

Yun Zi: a busy young man!

It was a beautiful and sunny day at the Giant Panda Research Center at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, July 2. Yun Zi was quite active. The keepers placed ice in his pond and hid some biscuits and bamboo among the dozens of cubes. He had a blast sprawling all over it, searching for his treats. At one point Yun Zi picked up a large piece of melted cubes and placed it on top of his chest. He tried to break it by biting it. Realizing it wasn’t working out so well, he placed the ice on top of his head. It finally broke in two pieces behind him. He then decided to try a somersault in the ice, but that didn’t go well, either! For the rest of the afternoon he sat in his hammock and ate bamboo.

Gao Gao took a well-deserved nap on top of his water dish. Some guests thought he was drinking from it, and they didn’t believe me when I told them he was sleeping. He couldn’t wait for the keeper’s arrival so he could eat more bamboo. Once they replenished his supply, he was as happy as can be, sitting in his pond and eating his meal.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Panda Excitement.


Panda Excitement

Yun Zi continues to thrive and finds new excitement every day!

Breeding season is here, and the pandas have been as active as ever. The keepers continue to switch Bai Yun and Gao Gao’s exhibits, so the pandas are investigating their “new” areas vigorously. Bai Yun has been scent marking and bleeting like crazy. When she’s not walking around the exhibit she is either eating or napping. On Saturday, she napped for a few hours on top of the rock structure in her exhibit, and on Sunday she was staying in her bedroom for a while. I was surprised she was in there because the keepers had just replenished her food supply.

Gao Gao has also been active in his exhibit.  He spent a lot of his time in the tunnel, where he napped and called for Bai Yun. At one point she did come over to the gate, where they sniffed each other.  On Sunday, Gao Gao was entertaining Zoo guests when he found a gopher and decided to play with it and tossed it in the air.  Fortunately, the gopher scurried back into its hole unharmed.

It has definitely been an exciting few days at pandas, and I’m sure more excitement is to come!

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

Update: The first breeding of this season for our panda pair occurred at 2:45 p.m. on April 15 (exactly two years after their first breeding of 2009)! Staff will continue to monitor Bai Yun, and give Gao Gao access to her if she seems willing, through the rest of the weekend. The main viewing exhibit will be closed to Zoo guests through Sunday, April 17.


Panda Commotion

Yun Zi masters his bamboo-eating skills.

There seemed to be a lot of commotion Tuesday at pandas. Bai Yun was also going in and out of her bedroom a bit. She would come out of her bedroom to eat, but then went right back inside. On Monday, she was playing with one of her enrichment toys—a red ball with treats inside. The keepers hung it on the tree, and she was pawing it, trying so hard to get the biscuits to fall out. She ended up getting all of them.

Gao Gao was putting on quite a show for the guests. He was always facing the crowd, showing everyone his handsome face. He would just sit comfortably and chomp away at his bamboo. In the middle of the day, he ended up sleeping behind a rock in his enclosure. Some of the guests were asking me where he was, or they thought he was a rock. Gao Gao played a pretty good rock, too, not even moving a muscle!

It was an eventful day at pandas, as it usually is. And, of course, a panda day is not complete without a panda nap.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, A Tuesday at Pandas.


A Tuesday at Pandas

The pandas were active at the San Diego Zoo on Tuesday, even though we had cloudy weather. Yun Zi was napping, as usual, but he was also bothering his mom, which isn’t too much of a surprise.  In the afternoon, the keepers cleaned  the exhibits and separated Mom and youngster, putting Yun Zi in one exhibit by himself.  He climbed up the tree, trying to look over in the other exhibit to see mother Bai Yun. He’s still getting used to being on his own.

Bai Yun did some roughhousing with him a couple of times but did not seem to chase him off as I had expected. Once Yun Zi was in the other enclosure, she settled down, sitting on top of the rock cave and chomping away on her bamboo for the rest of the afternoon. Yun Zi found a great hiding spot on top of the giant tree stump and took a very long nap.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Christmas with the Pandas.

Here’s a panda growth chart comparing the five cubs we’ve had, provided by the San Diego Zoo’s Nutritional Services Department. Click to view in larger format.


Christmas with the Pandas

Yun Zi

During this wonderful holiday evening, December 25, the pandas seemed to be amusing the guests quite a bit. Daddy Gao Gao had a crowd of admirers while he sat and ate to his heart’s content. The guests seemed to huddle around each other to catch a glimpse of this handsome panda. He didn’t seem to mind much. Personally, I think he loves the attention.

Mommy Bai Yun was very intriguing today. Usually, while I’m narrating, she likes to eat her bamboo on the far left side of the exhibit. But today she seemed to favor the far right hand side, which I found to be interesting. Maybe she wanted a change of scenery.

Baby Yun Zi was not as active this evening. Most of the time he sat in his hammock and slept. At one point, Bai Yun climbed to the hammock and tried to wake up Yun Zi. Of course he wouldn’t budge, like a kid not wanting to go to school on a Monday morning. She decided to take matters into her own hands (or paws, I should say) and pulled Yun Zi out of the hammock.  He bleated at her, as if to say, “Cut it out, Mom!” Then he curled up on top of the rock cave to return to his nap. She eventually gave up and returned to eating.

As the day came to an end, Bai Yun took it upon herself to nap on top of her bamboo. Sounds like a great ending to a great day. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, An Afternoon at Pandas.


An Afternoon at Pandas

Who will get to the biscuits first?

On a recent afternoon, the pandas at the San Diego Zoo seemed to be active and engaged in their usual activities. I saw that adult male Gao Gao was being his usual self, chomping away on bamboo and showing off his handsome face to the visitors, and his son, Yun Zi, was again trying to see what trouble he could get himself into.

Mother Bai Yun sat down to eat some bamboo; she had beside her the smaller, thinner pieces of bamboo with some leaves. Yun Zi scooted beside her, grabbed one of the pieces with his mouth, and raced up the rock structure as fast as he could and sat in his hammock. He played with the food for a bit, holding it in his paw. He did eventually eat it. One of the keepers tried to coax him to come down from his hammock and into the bedroom so she could clean the exhibit. It took some time, but with a lot of treats and encouragement, he eventually went inside.

Catch me if you can!

At one point, Bai Yun tried to wake Yun Zi from his nap, though usually it’s the other way around. She climbed to the middle of the tree where he was sleeping in his hammock. She nudged him with her nose. Then she rested her head next to his, which, of course, was adorable. He did eventually wake up but decided to stay where he was.

At the end of the day, Mom and Dad were snacking while Cub continued to nap, his face covered by his paw.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Panda Surprises.


Panda Surprises

On a lovely afternoon, the pandas were doing their usual activities: Yun Zi was playing around on the branches of his exhibit, while Bai Yun sat and munched on bamboo for a good amount of time. A few times I could see the little wheels turning in Yun Zi’s head, trying to decide what to investigate. I love to watch him while on the job because he never seems to bore me.

Today he decided to try to steal his mom’s food right out of her paw. Bai Yun was sitting back, chomping on a large rod of bamboo. Yun Zi crawled right on her big, furry stomach and tried to grab the piece that was in her mouth. She turned away once, but, of course, that didn’t work. He tried again to take the piece of bamboo, and she pushed him with her paw. Yun Zi gave up and resorted to stealing the left-over pieces that were resting by her foot.

Bai Yun did surprise me a little today. She walked to her pond to take a drink, stopped, and looked at the water, watching small leaves floating on the top. She stared at one leaf and slowly moved her paw toward the water. Then she grabbed it as fast as she could and ate the leaf. It was hilarious! She did this again and again until all of the leaves were gone. I had never seen her do this before.

Every time I am at the Giant Panda Research Station, I always see the pandas’ personalities shine. They each have their own little quirks. And as we all know, the end of a panda’s day is never complete without a nap.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.