Events at the Zoo

Events at the Zoo

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Birthday Plans for Xiao Liwu

Will Xiao Liwu come down from the tree for his birthday cake? Stay tuned!

Will Xiao Liwu come down from the tree for his birthday cake? Stay tuned!

It’s that time of the year again to order the birthday cake, wrap the presents, and celebrate with the San Diego Zoo—Mr. Wu’s first birthday is on Monday, July 29! This is a milestone for the Zoo, and we are the fortunate ones to celebrate our sixth panda first birthday with this “little gift.”

I placed the order for Mr. Wu’s birthday cake on July 1, as it takes our Forage Team around a month to plan and create their world-famous ice cakes. Our Forage Team folks always have amazing ideas and are very creative with their cakes. I continue to be amazed at what they can do with ice, and so are the bears! I am always tempted to take an early look at the cake, but I never do, as I like to keep it a surprise. The cake is always bigger and better than the year before.

Make sure you join us for Xiao Liwu’s special day and wear your favorite panda-themed clothes or something black, white, and red (we panda keepers will be in red for the occasion). Mr. Wu will have his cake presentation around 8:45 a.m. for special donors and the media, and the Zoo opens at 9 a.m. Make sure you are getting your cameras ready and/or watching Panda Cam!

There will not be snow in the forecast for his birthday, because he is not shifting off exhibit consistently yet, and we do not want to frighten him with the loud snow-blowing machines. There will be snow in the next month or so—we will let you know the exact date once that’s been determined. But be prepared that Mr. Wu might be enjoying his birthday festivities from high in the trees if anything makes him a little nervous. He has also made a Wish List for his birthday that will be posted on July 29. We’ll provide the link at that time.

By the way, Mr. Wu weighs 40 pounds (18 kilograms) now.

Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Comparing Panda Brothers.

5

It’s (Almost) Black Tuesday for Bees

The damaging effects commercially managed bees experience from pesticides are also suffered by native bees.

The damaging effects commercially managed bees experience from pesticides are also suffered by native bees.

Yes, I mean the catastrophic crash of the stock market in 1929 and the economic Great Depression that followed. As I listened to today’s stock market gains and losses on PBS’s “Marketplace,” I was struck by how closely our society follows this information. We pay attention because it affects our lives directly. The situation with pollinator decline is no less critical yet is barely on the radar of most. Since we have not hit bottom yet, it seems like a problem for another day—and there is no index to tell us how close we are.

Still, the warning bells are ringing. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, beetles, and flies are in crisis worldwide, suffering from pesticide exposure, habitat loss, and disease. Pollinators make fertilization possible for many plants; without them, food as we know it would simply not exist: no fruits, veggies, peanut butter, or chocolate—and that’s just a start.

If this suddenly sounds like the same old story you hear about humans and nature, stay with me a little longer. It’s more than another wildlife-in-crisis story, and I can guarantee that it will affect you personally—and definitely financially—if we keep the current course.

So, in the spirit of “Marketplace,” let’s do the numbers!

Visit the San Diego Zoo’s Pollinator Garden.

30% of the food we eat results from insect pollination.
This includes everything from cucumbers to squash, coffee to basil, strawberries to cantaloupes, cashews, and everything in between. It doesn’t include the insect-pollinated foods like alfalfa and clover that we feed to our livestock (where we get milk, eggs, and meat), so the percentage is likely much higher.

There is a 59% decline in overwintering monarch butterflies in the Central Mexican butterfly preserves since 2012.
75% of the Earth’s flowering plants depend on insect pollination to set seed or produce fruit.
The value of insect-pollinated crops in the US is $27 billion.

US beekeepers experienced a 30% decline of managed honeybee colony winter losses in the 2012-2013 year.
This number is far greater than the acceptable range of losses and only represents winter loss, not total loss. There are only about 2.5 million commercial honeybee colonies in the US. For perspective, it takes 1.6 million colonies to pollinate the annual almond crop alone.

THREATS TO POLLINATORS
Pesticides
All insects are affected by contact with insecticides. In particular, a newer class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids has been shown to severely affect bee health. In agriculture, this type of insecticide is most often applied as a seed coating, and the insect nerve poison is subsequently expressed in every tissue as the plant grows; leaf, stem, pollen, and nectar.

As a result, though the insecticide is targeted at “pest” insects, there can be serious consequences for any insect that visits the plant for nectar or pollen. Some need only be present when the planting occurs, as some of the chemical seed coating is released in a crop “dust” in agricultural plantings. The effects of these pesticide exposures include immediate death by contact, but some are sub-lethal, meaning that the animal does not die right away but experiences disorientation, loss of navigational ability, paralysis, and even memory loss as the result of contact.

Though there are federal regulations governing the concentrations of these poisons in agriculture, there are none for home use. Many products containing this type of insecticide can be found in local home improvement stores for landscaping use. Consumers often do not follow the instructions for application, and the concentrations can be many times higher than federal regulations allow. This means more of the poison will find its way to bees and other insect pollinators through gardens and runoff from irrigation.

It is important to note that the majority of research on pesticide effects in pollinators has been conducted in honeybees, because they are managed commercially and are thus more accessible and measurable. Since their biology is very similar to that of native bees, it is safe to assume that the damaging effects they experience from pesticides (and other sources) are also suffered by native bees.

Habitat loss
As human populations grow, less space remains for native pollinators. Overgrown spaces with wildflowers, weeds, and nesting sites are disappearing, making way for manicured lawns that eliminate key nectar and pollen sources like dandelions and encourage pesticide use. Agricultural practices claim land that was once suitable pollinator habitat with a diversity of nectar and pollen sources and replace it with insecticide and herbicide-laden monocultures.

Genetically modified (GM) crops
Two types of GM crops are routinely used in agriculture. One is an insect-resistant type, where a bacterium that is lethal to certain insects is incorporated into the genome of the plant, and the target insect species are killed upon feeding on the plant.

The second is an herbicide-resistant variety and is definitely of concern for pollinators, especially butterflies and bees. In herbicide-resistant GM crops, the plants are engineered to be resistant to applications of certain herbicides. As a result, the crop can withstand repeated applications of herbicide, which in turn kills all the flowering weeds surrounding the planted area.

This is of particular concern for monarch butterflies, whose larval host plant is milkweed, which thrives in disturbed habitats and has historically been found adjacent to crops. Most people are familiar with the epic migration of the monarch butterfly to the oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico. This year, the count of overwintering monarchs in the protected reserves revealed a catastrophic drop—down an incredible 59 percent from that of 2012 and standing at an all-time historical low since the migration was discovered in the 1970s. Lack of available host plants due to GM-related herbicide application has been identified as a significant contributor to this staggering decline.

Diseases
There are a great many parasites and pathogens that burden pollinators such as bees, and the ones causing the most damage are introduced species. Native bumblebees suffer from a nonnative fungal disease, while honeybees struggle with introduced ectoparasites such as Varroa mites and fungal infestations from Nosema spores.

A combination of all these and probably other factors has created the phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder, which is decimating honeybee colonies in the US. The precise cause is unknown, because the bees simply disappear, thus taking the evidence with them. But one thing is clear—life is hard for commercial honeybees these days.

Pollinator gard_1

A native bee house for mason and leafcutter bees in the Pollinator Garden provides holes to make nests.

WE ARE HERE FOR THEM
At the San Diego Zoo, we are committed to helping pollinators recover:

Providing a safe haven
We have a pollinator “way station” at the Pollinator Garden, located at the entrance to Elephant Odyssey. This space is dedicated to helping sustain pollinators by providing a steady supply of pesticide-free nectar and host plants, as well as suitable living spaces for native bees. We have a large section of milkweed available for monarch butterflies to lay eggs on from spring through fall, helping to boost the West Coast population.

Educating our guests
Our Education Department is working with Zoo Corps kids to help raise native milkweed for monarch butterflies in our Pollinator Garden. Staff have also incorporated the garden as a teaching tool for various curricula.

Live and let live
Where possible on Zoo grounds, we allow honeybee swarms to move on in their own time and only actively remove established hives when either human or collection animal health is clearly at risk.
National Pollinator Week awareness
The Entomology Department participates every year in National Pollinator Week, with the help of many departments. During the entire week, the insect keepers are giving daily presentations on bees and other pollinators at the honeybee display in the Insect House at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 pm.

HOW ABOUT YOU?
A steady wave of small choices can help turn the tide. Here are a few ways you can help:

Buy organic
If you don’t currently buy any organic foods or clothing, think about picking even one item the next time you visit the store. For one, you could potentially lower the demand for crops produced using pesticides and reduce the overall application (over one MILLION pounds yearly) of these chemicals in the US. This alone will help pollinators.

Secondly, even if you don’t care about whether or not you eat GM crops, buying crops that are genetically modified supports the practice of widespread herbicide application in agriculture and the decimation of pollinator habitat that results. Organic items cannot intentionally include GM crops; those labeled “No GMO” have been positively determined not to contain them. One item in your basket is a small step in the right direction for pollinators.

Build your own way station
Plant some milkweed! Create a habitat in your yard, garden, or flowerbox that invites pollinators. Some great planting information can be found at www.xerces.org, along with more details on the status of pollinators and insect conservation in general.

Avoid pesticide use at home
If you really, truly must use pesticides, read the manufacturer’s instructions on recommended concentration, and only use it at or below that level.

Let part of your lawn go wild for pollinators
Long, overgrown grasses create a perfect habitat for nesting and overwintering native bees, and flowering weeds are a staple nectar and pollen source for bees and butterflies alike. Keep in mind that most native bees are solitary and do not sting readily. They are good, safe neighbors—especially if you have a garden.

Tell your friends
Most people have no idea that the sustainability of food as we know it is so tightly linked with the health of pollinators. Share what you know!

UNDERWRITE THE FUTURE FOR POLLINATORS
This week, June 17 through 23, is National Pollinator Week. It is the perfect time to visit the Zoo’s Pollinator Garden and spend some time watching monarch butterflies laying eggs, and bees and hummingbirds finding a nectar or pollen meal in a beautiful flower.

But it is an even better time to act. If we can all make one small change in our habits this week, we could make a big difference for pollinators. To bring it back to our financial analogy, it has been said that if more people knew the current status of pollinator decline, they would be more concerned with that than with the ups and downs of the NASDAQ or S&P 500.

So now you know the stakes—and you are definitely a stakeholder. Will you invest in the solution?

Paige Howorth is an animal care manager at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, The Queen Will Not Be Denied!

362

News about Zhen Zhen

Zhen

Zhen Zhen relaxes after her 3rd birthday festivities in 2010.

Back in February, we reported with excitement that panda Zhen Zhen had bred for the first time and was the first female at the Bi Feng Xia center in China to do so in 2013 (see post Panda Zhen Zhen). For newer panda fans, Zhen Zhen is Bai Yun and Gao Gao’s youngest daughter and moved to China in September 2010. Well, it is with some sadness that we share the latest news on Zhen Zhen: On May 6, Zhen Zhen gave birth to a single cub; however, the cub died soon after birth.

Of course, we know that Zhen Zhen, who will be six years old this August, will have many more opportunities to breed and have cubs in the future, and there is no reason to doubt that she will be successful down the road. An early May birth is very unusual for pandas, with most of the births being recorded between July and September, after a variable period of diapause and a 50-day period of gestation.

Megan Owen is a conservation program manager for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Our Pandas in China.

49

New Koala Exhibit Now Open

Female koala Tonahleah and her 10-month-old male joey, Gummy, settle into their new digs at the all-new Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.

Female koala Tonahleah and her 10-month-old male joey, Gummy, settle into their new digs at the all-new Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.

It was a glorious morning today as we celebrated the official opening of the San Diego Zoo’s brand-new exhibit, the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback. At last, our koalas have more space to do what they do best: look adorable even while sound asleep! In the koalas’ former exhibit, the animals had to take turns being outside, as there wasn’t enough exhibit space to allow them all (21 of ‘em!) out at once. But now there’s room for all, including 3 joeys ranging in age from 8 to 10 months.

This dancer's depictions of Australian birds were spot on and fun to watch.

This dancer’s depictions of Australian birds were spot on and fun to watch.

The opening ceremony included remarks from San Diego Zoo Global’s chairman, Rick Gulley, representatives of the Yugambeh-language people of Australia’s Gold Coast, supported by Dreamworld, and Australia Consulate General Karen Lanyon, who declared the new exhibit “fantastic—a piece of Australia!” We were treated to a traditional welcome song and intricate dances depicting various birds as part of the opening.

Australian Outback is a 3-acre area home to our famous koalas as well as wallabies, wombats, and 23 species of Australian birds. But for me this morning, it was all about the koalas and their new care facility. Designed to look like a Queenslander-style house, it features large viewing windows so guests can see the copious amounts of eucalyptus housed in a giant walk-in cooler and watch koala keepers prepare that eucalyptus for their charges to nibble on at their leisure. Wrapped around three quarters of the “house” are the koala enclosures: 10 individual enclosures for the male koalas, who apparently prefer a life of quiet solitude, and 2 bigger enclosures for the females, who don’t mind company. It is the larger of these enclosures that is now featured on Koala Cam. Basically, there are now LOTS of opportunities to view koalas as you make your way around the house.

The koala care center can be seen in the background. Koala enclosures wrap around it on three sides.

The koala care center can be seen in the background. Koala enclosures wrap around it on three sides.

The keepers I talked to this morning had big grins as they shared how nice this new facility is for the koalas. Sometimes koalas can be unpredictable with changes, but Chris Hamlin Andrus, the animal care manager for the area, said that all of the koalas are doing remarkably well so far in their new home. She is so grateful to Conrad Prebys, other donors, and their love for animals for donating the funds to make it all possible. Zoo Veterinarian Geoff Pye is glad the koalas all have a chance to be in the fresh air and sunshine, which will reduce possible vitamin D deficiency, as our koalas have been prone to hip dysplasia in the past.

I chatted with Zoo guests to get some of their impressions as they strolled around. “Loved it!” and “Awesome” were expressions I heard often. One guest declared that the lighting is so much better in the new exhibit—better for photographers! I hope our koala fans will make plans to visit soon. Be sure to bring your camera!

Debbie Andreen is an associate editor for San Diego Zoo Global.

2

Bowling for Rhinos

A southern white rhino calf trots next to Mom at the Safari Park.

A southern white rhino calf trots next to Mom at the Safari Park.

In 1967, several keepers in San Diego got together to form what is now a nationwide nonprofit organization called the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). AAZK has over 2,500 members throughout the US and Canada and includes animal care professionals and people interested in conservation and improving animal care. The San Diego chapter of AAZK (SDAAZK) has over 80 members and supporters who work at several of the local animal facilities like the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld, California Wolf Center, Project Wildlife, and Lions Tigers & Bears. It is a great organization that is very active in furthering education for those who work directly with animals and bringing awareness and funding to conservation organizations throughout the world.

The main method of providing funding for conservation organizations is through hosting fundraising events, which we do a lot. I always joke with our members and friends that we mainly raise money to give it away. We know that there are so many worthy causes that need help, and with a membership that is passionate about wildlife conservation, fundraising is a big part of what we do.

So it should be no surprise that SDAAZK has been participating in the biggest AAZK fundraiser since it began in 1990 called Bowling For Rhinos (BFR). The event has raised over $4 million to assist 3 very important conservation organizations: the Lewa Conservancy in Africa, the International Rhino Foundation in Asia, and Cheetahs in Action in Africa. These three organizations have been fundamental in the protection of rhinos and cheetahs and their habitats.

SDAAZK has hosted Bowling For Rhinos every year, and this, our 23rd year, is no different. It will take place on May 18 at Kearny Mesa Bowl in San Diego. Our goal is to raise $20,000 or more for rhino conservation! The event consists of a bowl-a-thon in which participants raise sponsorship money that goes directly to rhino conservation. There is also a silent auction, drawings, best-dressed team contest, a bake sale, live music, and much more.

One of the beauties of the event is that all monies raised go directly to rhino conservation because SDAAZK members and others volunteer their time. We are also lucky in that many businesses from the community have become involved and donate items for the auction and raffle.

Historically, Bowling For Rhinos has been one of our biggest fundraisers, and this year looks like it will be no different. The event is over a week away, and we have already almost sold out the 40 bowling lanes! With each team consisting of 5 players and each player raising a minimum sponsorship of $30 each, our goal of $20,000 is looking good. Plus, we have great prizes for the top fundraisers of the evening. If you are wondering why we set a goal of $20,000, the reason is easy: we want to beat last year’s total of over $16,000.

We would love for you to join us at this year’s Bowling For Rhinos! You can participate even if you don’t bowl; between the auction, drawings, and contests there will be a lot to do. Moral support and cheering is also appreciated. It really is a fun event for a great cause! To learn more about SDAAZK and Bowling For Rhinos, visit our website at www.sdaazk.org! You might be interested to know just what keepers do with their “spare” time.

Yvette Kemp is a senior hospital keeper at the San Diego Zoo and president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Read her previous post, Quarantine for New Animals.

0

Win a free kindertots class

Hey parents with  an 18 month-old to 3-year-old, want to win a free Saturday morning KinderTots class for the family (admission required for non-members)? Send a photo of your 18-month-old to 3-year-old with some kind of animal to sdzoocontests@gmail.com for a chance to win. One grand prize winner will score a free KinderTots class for the family.

*Read the terms and conditions below.

*By submitting your photo(s), you represent that you own the copyright to the photo(s) and that you have all necessary rights to grant a license to the Zoological Society of San Diego (DBA San Diego Zoo Global) to publish and to re-use such photo(s) for any purpose without compensation and that you hereby grant such license together with the right to use your name. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER. Odds of winning will depend on number of eligible entries. Winners will be determined by San Diego Zoo Global staff from among all eligible entries. Winners will be notified by e-mail and need not be present to win. Only one winner per household. Prize includes a KinderTots class for four ($48 value). Admission required for non-members. Contest void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 years of age and older to enter and claim a prize. San Diego Zoo Global employees and their immediate families are not eligible. Some restrictions apply.

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Panda-Monium 2013

The 2013 T-shirt for Panda-Monium

Hi, panda fans!

We are announcing PANDA-MONIUM 2013! The 4th Annual Panda Convention will be on March 23 and 24 in beautiful San Diego. Emailed invitations have gone out to everyone on our list from previous conventions and to anyone who has already provided us with their email address. If you have not received an invitation and are interested (and who wouldn’t be?) you can email us at pandaconvention@yahoo.com. Everything is included in the invitation package: itinerary, info on venues including the Crowne Plaza Hotel and how to reserve your discounted room, the San Diego Zoo Experience, Reception and Panda Celebration Saturday evening, registration form, and T-shirt ordering form. It is all in there.

The Zoo Experience includes a presentation by Suzanne Hall, senior researcher at the Giant Panda Research Station. We have been honored to have Suzanne in the past and have so enjoyed her talks and company. There is a question-and-answer session at the end of Suzanne’s presentation so you have the opportunity to ask her those questions you’ve been wanting answered! Of course the Zoo Experience also includes our early morning entry into the Zoo to see our beloved bears. AND we will have the opportunity to see our newest little cubbie, Xiao Liwu. There’s also a wonderful breakfast buffet in the Zoo’s Rondavel meeting room and a private Zoo bus tour. The Zoo experience includes your Zoo pass for the day.

Our Reception and Panda Celebration is Saturday evening at the Crowne Plaza. Details are in the invitation about some of the awards we will be presenting while others will be kept under wraps until the celebration begins. It’s fun to wear black and white (but not required), and you could even win Best Black & White Attire. We have awards and door prizes, hot and cold appetizers, a no-host bar, and most of all, mingling with panda fans. It is always fun to put faces to names we see on the San Diego Zoo’s panda blog and Facebook.

A photo of this year’s T-shirt is above; same heavyweight tee, same company as the last two years.

We hope you are as excited as we are in presenting this year’s package for the 4th Annual Panda Convention. We are limiting registration to 50 people this year, so sign up as soon as you can. See you in San Diego!

Donna, Laurie, Velia, Carolyn, Diana

4

Earn Your Master’s with the Zoo!

We here in the Conservation Education Lab at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research are always looking for new and exciting ways to bring conservation to you, and our newest method is sure to intrigue many of you! We are extremely pleased to announce that San Diego Zoo Global is partnering with Project Dragonfly, housed at Miami University in Ohio, to bring a unique new Master’s degree program to southern California!

As many of you may already know, the Conservation Education Lab is dedicated to connecting people to conservation by offering meaningful, hands-on conservation science experiences to middle school and high school students; immersive teacher workshops in conservation biology to middle school and high school life science teachers across the nation; and in situ conservation education to local communities at our many field sites around the globe.

Our latest undertaking will extend the teacher workshop experience into the relevant and affordable Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master’s. Participants can opt to pursue a Master’s of Teaching in Biological Sciences or a Master’s of Art in Zoology. This program can be completed part time in 2.5 years while working and is tailored to educators and other professionals interested in community engagement and environmental stewardship.

Join us for a free information session on October 9, 2012, at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research in Escondido, or on October 16, 2012, at the San Diego Zoo. Both sessions run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres, an animal encounter, and hear about this exciting new Master’s program!

For more information, click here….

Kimberly Kutina is a research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

25

A Fresh Look at the Zoo

Our panda gets comfy.

For many San Diegans, it’s easy to take our fine city, climate, and attractions for granted. Sometimes it takes out-of-town visitors to inspire us to look at our environment with fresh eyes. So it was last week when my niece, Kira, freshly graduated from college, and her girlfriend, Rachel, took a road trip from Washington to Southern California. They carved out a day to “see Auntie Karyl” and visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo. I always enjoy getting out of the office, and I was excited to escort the girls around. I found myself bursting with pride on more than one occasion as they gasped and giggled with delight at the animals and their antics. Strolling through the Zoo is a beautiful reminder of the incredible creatures we share the planet with.

After the girls shared their “must-see” list with me, we plotted our strategy and headed to Panda Trek. The red pandas were cavorting about, nibbling on bamboo and scampering along their climbing structures. “They’re so close!” Kira exclaimed. As we waited a few moments to enter the giant panda exhibit, we slathered on sunscreen and sipped our water. Soon Gao Gao, the adult male panda, was before us, snapping bamboo stalks in half like bread sticks. It’s a banner day when you get to see red pandas and giant pandas wide awake and doing their thing!

A jaguar cub gets “a licking” from Mom.

Hopping onto the convenient moving sidewalk, we headed up to Elephant Odyssey for what I hoped would be a special treat. Our jaguar, Nindiri, recently had a couple of frisky cubs, and I hoped to get a glimpse of the tiny, spotted wonders. Lucky for us, one of the cubs nestled up to Mom for some reassurance and a snack, much to the collective glee of the crowd. Continuing through the epic Pleistocene odyssey, savoring the majestic elephants and the perfectly round labors of dung beetles, we discovered the African kopje exhibit where a klipspringer remained stock still for its photo shoot and the meerkats struck some unusual poses (I’d never seen two snuggled up in a burrow entrance!).

Rachel, left, and Kira soar above the Zoo on the Skyfari aerial tram.

Urban Jungle did not disappoint with a baby giraffe, looking like a toy, bedded down next to the watchful herd, Caribbean flamingos preening beneath their misters, and the enchanting cheetah/dog pair hanging out in the shade. We took a little break at Sydney’s Grill, and quite fortuitously caught Nighttime Zoo’s kick-off performance of the Jasmine and Jade Jumpers. Their bouncing trampoline talents put a spring back in our step! Of course, no visit to the Zoo is complete without a relaxing ride on the Skyfari. The stunning view of Balboa Park and beyond, with the buttery, summer breeze in our hair, made me more than happy to share the sparkling gems of San Diego—and the Earth—with my enthusiastic visitors.

Karyl Carmignani is a staff writer for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, Primates: Quality Family Time.

28

Panda Sleepover for Panda Fans

Yun Zi: Dreaming of the toys campers will make for him?

Hello, panda fans!

Memorial Day just passed, which means it’s time to think SUMMER! August may seem far away still, but I know it’ll be here before we know it, and I wouldn’t want anyone to start planning their summer without putting the San Diego Zoo’s annual Black & White Overnight on the calendar.

We’ve got two Black & White Overnight adventures on the schedule this summer, and I promise to keep you posted as to all the special activities I’m planning. But for now, here are the weekends to keep in mind.

• August 4 to 5 will be the ADULTS only Black & White Overnight (ages 21+)
• August 11 to 12 will be the FAMILY version (ages 4 and older; those under 17 must be accompanied by an adult)

So mark the dates and come join us. Just bring yourself and a sleeping bag (and maybe a change of clothes). We’ll supply the tents, food, and all the tours and activities, including, of course, some exclusive time with our pandas, researchers, and panda narrators.

Hope to see you all in August!

Silvan Davidson is an education specialist at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Black and White Fun.