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Bai Yun and Gao Gao

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Our Panda Conservation Program

Bai Yun has been a wonderful ambassador for pandas.

Bai Yun has been a wonderful ambassador for pandas.

When Bai Yun arrived at the San Diego Zoo back in November 1996, we all had great expectations for the San Diego Zoo’s panda conservation program. And we knew that these expectations rested squarely on Bai Yun’s beautiful black-and-white shoulders. In the years since, our panda conservation program has grown and has achieved a number of notable successes.

At the center of it all is Bai Yun. Of course, Gao Gao, too, has been extremely important to the success of our breeding program at the San Diego Zoo. Not all male pandas show appropriate breeding behavior, so Gao Gao’s arrival in San Diego in 2003 enabled us to fulfill our goal of studying giant panda reproduction, from breeding to maternal care. However, Bai Yun’s importance to our conservation program goes beyond her successes as a mother, as she has truly exemplified the role of conservation ambassador. Engaging and fascinating the public for the last 18 years, she is the quintessential giant panda, emblematic of the inherent beauty and value of wildlife.

Bai Yun will be 23 years old in September. For those of us who have watched her over the years, we are amazed at her consistent good health, youthful behavior, and appearance. However, this year, her estrous behavior has not been what it has been in the past. Can Bai Yun be heading toward reproductive senescence? Heading into her 23rd year, the answer, most likely, is yes; however, we won’t know for sure until next spring. As of this writing, Bai Yun has not shown more than a minimal level of the behavioral changes that are typically associated with estrus. Back in March, we saw a bit of scent marking and some water walking, behaviors that normally indicate that estrus is coming. However, the expression of these behaviors did not escalate, and soon after they began, they ceased. Since then, Bai Yun has been “quiet.” While estrus can occur into June, the vast majority of breeding, including for our bears here, occurs in March and April,

When Bai Yun gave birth to Xiao Liwu in 2012, it was widely noted that she was the second-oldest giant panda to give birth. While an impressive statistic, that notable milestone provided us with valuable information regarding the finite nature of a female’s biological capacity to produce offspring. Male giant pandas, like other male mammals, can theoretically sire offspring later in life, though for wild pandas, other factors may get in the way of this, including competition with other males for breeding access to females and choosy females that may not be interested.

Bai Yun has given birth to 6 cubs over the past 15 years. While some other females have given birth to 10 or more cubs, the number of litters a female has is typically no more than 6 or 7. For example, between 2004 and 2013, Bai Yun’s first daughter, Hua Mei, has had 10 cubs from 7 litters. While Hua Mei is 8 years younger than Bai Yun, it will be interesting to see whether or not she has more cubs in the coming years. These contrasting mother-daughter patterns are at the heart of one of our research questions: What are the limits of reproductive output in the species?

In some panda breeding facilities, cubs are weaned earlier in order to promote successive annual breeding opportunities. In other facilities, cubs are weaned at about 18 months, mimicking what we believe is the more natural timing of weaning. In these cases, females will only be able to breed every two years. Given this, we might expect to see females that breed every year producing 15 litters over their reproductive lives. However, this does not appear to be the case.

Understanding what governs female reproductive output in giant pandas has implications for both captive breeding and conservation of wild giant pandas, and we are currently analyzing a fairly large volume of data to address this question. Is reproductive output governed exclusively by chronological age? Or is it governed in part by health and vigor? And how does variation in inter-birth-interval (the time between successive pregnancies) influence a female’s lifetime reproductive output? We hope to have some answers to these questions in the coming months.

I have to admit that I never get tired of watching our giant pandas here at the San Diego Zoo. While the excitement of a new cub is undeniable, I know that I will enjoy watching Bai Yun and Gao Gao relax this summer, while young Xiao Liwu explores and plays, enjoying his first summer as a solo panda. Our panda family exemplifying their roles as ambassadors for conservation!

Panda Yun Zi in China.

Update on panda Gao Gao, May 11, 2014: Thank you for all the Gao Gao well wishes! He is doing well post surgery and is enjoying spending time in his back bedrooms. There he is catered to by his keepers 3 to 4 times a day, and he lets them know when he wants back scratches. Gao does have access daily to an off-view exhibit that has a panda camera in it, although he seems to prefer to enjoy the air-conditioned bedrooms, his black sleeping tub, and his keepers’ attention.

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Panda Pregnancy?

What's in store for Bai Yun this year?

Since our beloved adult giant pandas were able to breed three times recently, and it was on the news, we are already meeting lots of San Diego Zoo guests who are curious to know if Bai Yun is pregnant. Of course we all hope that she is pregnant, but we really won’t know for sure for some time. The only way we can accurately confirm a pregnancy in a female giant panda is through an ultrasound procedure.

Her sleeping patterns may change down the road. Bai Yun may be napping much longer during the day and may be even a little more lethargic in general. As usual, we will be comparing this breeding season with previous ones. For example, last year Bai Yun and Gao Gao bred in mid-April, but this year we had breeding in mid-March. Since this is earlier, we may be looking earlier for signs of pregnancy; on the other hand, she may have a longer gestation. We’ll just have to wait and see!

The San Diego Zoo is only one of a number of facilities studying giant pandas. We know some behaviors that are standard for pandas, and we know that some behaviors are typical for OUR pandas. We are continuing to learn about courtship behavior, breeding, gestation, and rearing of cubs.

We are all eager to see what happens this year and look forward to what may lie ahead!

Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Pandas: Shaved Bellies.

Update April 3: The Panda Team received word from Wolong that Hua Mei’s youngest cub passed away. It seems the cub was fine one day and gone the next, and veterinarians there are still looking into the cause of death. Su Lin’s cub is doing great but has not been named yet. We are working on getting an update on Zhen Zhen.

Update April 4: The Panda Team received confirmation that Zhen Zhen has been moved to Le Shan. We are attempting to get more details to share with her many friends.

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Monday: Black, White, Blues

Gao Gao tries to encourage Bai Yun into a mating posture.

Sunday, March 18, was a great day at the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Trek, with three copulations achieved between panda adults Bai Yun and Gao Gao (see post Sunday: Persistence Pays Off). Despite the rain and wind, our bears had been paired five times.Toward the end of the day, however, Bai Yun had shown reluctance to drop her shoulders to the ground into the posture we call lordosis, and this made things more difficult for Gao Gao. It is an absolute necessity for her to get low so that Gao Gao has the access he needs to ensure a copulation.

On Monday morning, March 19, we assessed Bai Yun at first light to determine if there was a possibility of pairing them again that day. All of her behavioral signals still looked good: she bleated frequently, gave us a ready tail-up when touched, and walked backward toward us. When we put her out into the exhibit to assess Gao Gao’s response to her across the howdy gate, her behavior remained strong, and she began chirping at him.

An interesting side note: Bai Yun reserved her chirp for her mate this year. She was almost never heard emitting this vocalization outside of his presence. Our past research has demonstrated that males can ascertain a female’s breeding readiness from the structural content of that chirp, and it seems Bai Yun wasn’t wasting her efforts on chirping at any of us! It’s as if she knew that only Gao Gao could decipher the message.

For his part, Gao Gao was in fine shape. We might have expected him to be a bit sore and slow on Monday, given his high level of physical exertion the day before. Certainly that had been the case in recent years. This time around, he seemed to suffer no ill effects. He was at the gate right away that morning, and although he wasn’t initially showing signs of high motivation to pair with Bai Yun, he was nonetheless interested in checking her out. He stood at the gate in the rain and mud and watched, sniffed, and vocalized.

After a half hour of assessment, Gao Gao decided she was still ripe for his attention. With rain buffeting us, we opened the howdy gate. The bears moved toward each other right away. In a few minutes time, the two were tucked inside the passageway between the two exhibits, attempting to achieve the correct position for mating.

We’ve always been quite lucky in San Diego, at least since Gao Gao arrived. While pandas can take quite some time to achieve the mating position in a manner that allows copulation, our pair has typically been very efficient. We have never had to wait more than a few minutes, perhaps half an hour, before they succeeded. Having watched mating introductions in Wolong, I know that it isn’t always so easy. Sometimes staff observes for an hour or more before a mating is accomplished, particularly if the breeding pair involves one or more inexperienced animals.

On Monday, I felt like I was back in Wolong. As each attempt to achieve the correct posture failed, Gao Gao would push and pull and nibble on Bai Yun, coaxing her into shifting a little to allow him a different angle to work with. However, on this muddy, wet day, Bai Yun seemed very reluctant to leave her sheltered spot in the passageway. Not only was she out of the rain there, but she was also on a cement pad, out of the mud! Could this possibly make a difference for a panda? She is a bear, after all! In the wild, pandas mate in snow and rain and mud and all kinds of conditions. But Bai Yun has apparently become something of a princess during her time in San Diego. She seemed reluctant to give herself over to getting that dirty and wet. Unbelievable.

We watched as the minutes ticked by: 30, 45, 60 minutes passed. Gao Gao was getting a little tired from his efforts. He’d pause briefly to sit beside her, panting heavily. But after a breather, he returned to his duties, trying to force her to move her body so that he could gain access. As time wore on, she seemed to be tiring, too, and she moved into the low, lordosis posture less frequently.

After about an hour and 15 minutes, we decided to try to reset the bears and get them out of the tunnel passageway. If we could get them back to Bai Yun’s exhibit area, then perhaps they could find the slope that had facilitated their copulations in the past; with Bai Yun head-down on the slope, Gao Gao seems to have better access. So we called them apart, closed the howdy, and let them line up once again. They weren’t ready to quit and were anxious for us to reopen the door.

After about 15 minutes apart, we gave them access again. Unfortunately, Bai Yun moved straight for the passageway. Once again, she parked herself on that cement pad and refused to budge. Gao Gao worked hard to get the job done, but Bai Yun was no longer getting into lordosis, and she wouldn’t allow him to drive her out of her sheltered spot. Finally, after a cumulative effort of about two hours, Gao Gao gave up.

He walked away. But she followed. She turned her backside to him and chirped away. He walked away again. And she followed. She was not ready to give up, apparently. But neither was she willing to drop her shoulders for him. And Gao Gao was tired. He finally let her know he wanted to be left alone. At that point, staff intervened, and we separated the two into their respective enclosures. The howdy gate was closed between them, most likely for the last time.

Although we would have liked to see another breeding on that day, we were pretty happy to have accomplished three copulations during this breeding season. As Bai Yun’s estrus behavior waned throughout the week, life returned to normal at Panda Trek. And now, our focus shifts to what lies ahead. I know you’ll be with us on the journey toward the possibility of a new panda cub in San Diego.

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

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Sunday: Persistence Pays Off

Our adult pandas' size difference is clear to see!

After an auspicious start on Sunday, which began with an early breeding between giant pandas Bai Yun and Gao Gao, San Diego Zoo staff had planned to give our pandas a break of several hours to rest. After the high level of physical exertion associated with breeding attempts, rest periods help recharge the bears’ batteries. The pandas grab a quick snack and a catnap and wake up feeling refreshed.

Somewhat unusually, Gao Gao maintained a very high level of motivation after that first breeding, refusing to rest. He motored about his exhibit, bleating and checking the howdy gate. He grabbed an occasional drink or bite to eat but kept his focus on his mate. Bai Yun, for her part, kept close to that gate, rear-presenting and making it clear she would be happy to have Gao Gao with her again. In order to take advantage of their obviously high level of arousal, we opted to skip the break period and allow them access to one another sooner rather than later. It paid off. At 10:29 a.m., a second mating was achieved.

Staff was elated. Both bears were doing well, we had two matings under our belt, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Despite the crazy weather (it was hailing on us at one point as we watched the bears wrestling in the drizzle), our charges seemed focused, strong, and willing. Surely now that they had managed to copulate twice, they would want to take a break, right?

Wrong. Maybe Gao Gao worried that Bai Yun might have weaker motivation the next day. Or maybe he was aware of his own tendency to be a little slower the day after breeding, feeling the effects of muscle fatigue and soreness. Or maybe he just likes his girlfriends covered in mud. For whatever reason, our boy just would not settle down! He continued to pace and bleat and paw at the gate when she was near. Bai Yun continued to bait him at the howdy gate.

It was decided that if the bears were up for it, we should let them have another shot. Again the gate was opened. For some time, the two worked the mating dance without success. The rain poured down some more, and the wind blew dried bamboo stems down from the stands surrounding the exhibits. And still they worked at it. Ultimately, they did not succeed, so we separated them again to reset the stage.

Almost comically, the bears again refused to leave each other alone. Really, Gao Gao? How can you be so undeterred by the mud and wind and rain? We are soaked through and exhausted just watching you. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you are a senior bear? But I digress.

After much debate, we opted to go with Gao Gao. Up went the howdy gate, down came the rain. They interacted for another half hour or so, but again no mating was realized. Surely, they must be done for the day, we thought. They had to be tuckered out by now. But…well, I think you can guess where this is going!

His motivation still urgent, Gao Gao was letting us know he was still very interested in Bai Yun. Some of Bai Yun’s sexual behaviors were still building in intensity, which was encouraging. However, as she tired, Bai Yun had seemed more and more slow about adopting a posture of lordosis, in which she lowers her shoulders to the ground. Let’s face it: Gao Gao, for all his vigor, isn’t a very big boy. If our female doesn’t get low to the ground, all the vigor in the world just isn’t going to help.

Maybe this was a factor of her age (“Oh, my aching back”), or perhaps the weather conditions (“It’s muddy and wet down there”). For whatever reason, Bai Yun was not as cooperative as Gao Gao would have liked, and this was a contributing factor to their lack of success midday.

Persistence pays off, however. The fifth time(!) we paired our bears, Gao Gao managed to coax Bai Yun into the proper position. He finally accomplished what he had been working so hard to achieve for the last few hours. A third copulation was realized at 1:28 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, we sealed the howdy gate between the bears and left them with a heavy feed. Our hope was that they would fill their bellies and rest. Ideally, we would like to see one more mating out of this pair, not because three isn’t a good number (it is!), but because we are interested in seeing if we could spread out the timing of their breedings a bit to ensure we catch that egg when it is released. The precise timing of ovulation in the breeding cycle is still a bit of an enigma to us, and we would like to have a wide breeding window to maximize the likelihood of fertilization. So we decided to come in again on Monday and try again.

Did Bai Yun remember to get her shoulders down? Did Gao Gao wake up too tired to try again? Did the hail return to spice things up? What happened on Monday? You’ll have to wait until my next installment to fill in those blanks. Right now, I’m going to crawl under a (dry) warm blanket and catch up on some rest myself.

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Dependable Pandas.

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Gao Gao and the Tub

Gao Gao

Bai Yun and Gao Gao were enjoying themselves Thursday afternoon at the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station. Gao Gao had received a bin full of fresh pine shavings as his enrichment. He REALLY enjoyed himself! He was rolling around in the bin, rubbing the shavings all over his head. He even took a nap in there for a bit but then crawled out and moved to his favorite napping spot behind the tree. In the evening, he returned to the tub and sat in there, eating some bamboo. Gao Gao was also vocalizing quite a bit that day. Our guests were very excited to see him.

Bai Yun slept about half of the afternoon. Once the keeper replenished her food, she was up and about. On the hunt for her favorite snack, red apples, she vigorously climbed the tree stumps, which impressed all of our guests. After snacking on the apples and carrots for a bit, she placed herself atop her rock cave with very large pieces of bamboo to dine on.

By the end of the day, our giant pandas were still happily eating their bamboo, a perfect ending to a perfect day at the San Diego Zoo.

Alyssa Medeiros is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Bai Yun Scent Marks.

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What is Yun Zi Doing?

Yun Zi, our ace student!

As of January 24, 2012, giant panda Yun Zi has moved from the main viewing exhibits and is currently living in the bedroom suites at the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Trek. He is enjoying his extended vacation and being around his keepers, who dote on him all day. Yun Zi is being pampered daily with enrichment toys to keep him busy and extra training sessions with his favorite keepers. He is putting in all his effort to excel in his studies and training. Yun Zi is trying to make his parents proud by following in their footsteps!

Currently, Yun Zi is training to be a candidate for our hearing study. He is learning to be patient and sit in one place (called a “station”) until he hears a tone. When he hears a tone, he then needs to touch his nose to a red circle (the target) to let the keeper know he heard it. If he does not hear a tone, he needs to remain in the station position. This study is very important to our researchers as we test the sound frequencies and levels of a panda’s hearing. Pandas can be stressed by different noise frequencies; if we know their range of hearing, we can determine which levels are a bother to them. Yun Zi is also learning how to put his arm through a special sleeve, called a “blood draw sleeve,” so the Zoo’s vet technicians can safely take a sample of blood from his arm without the use of anesthesia. Yun Zi is currently excelling in all of his training and seems to enjoy the extra time with his keepers.

Yun Zi might not be on exhibit for a while, and it all depends on his mom. In the past, this is the time when all of our teenage bears move out to an off-exhibit area so their mother could prepare for breeding season. If you remember last year, this was the time when Yun Zi moved out and got his own apartment, so to speak (see post Yun Zi Gets Own Apartment)! This helped us prepare for the time when Bai Yun selected her “date night” with Gao Gao. It is very important that Bai Yun and Gao Gao are housed next to each other so we can detect any signs of estrus. It is an exciting time to watch both adult bears flirting with each other.

Bai Yun is the only one who can decide when she is ready, and this can be any time between now and April. We only have a small window of three days when Bai Yun can show us she is ready to spend time with her “husband.” We are all excited for a potential date night between Bai Yun and Gao Gao this spring. Keep your fingers crossed for the sound of little paws this fall!

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

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Pandas Play Peek-a-boo

Yun Zi

Many of our blog readers have commented in recent weeks that they are concerned that they haven’t seen giant panda Yun Zi on Panda Cam or in person. Some have expressed concern about his apparent disappearance. I thought I would take a moment to explain some of the factors contributing to his absence and to reassure you that Yun Zi is just fine.

As you know, the San Diego Zoo has new HD cameras that have vastly improved your Panda Cam viewing experience. No more grainy, foggy, or blurry images online. Instead, we have clear, enlarged images that help you get a better feel for the pandas and their enclosures. However, not every one of our facility’s 30-odd cameras was replaced with the HD system. Several of our areas are still serviced by our old, standard cameras. However, the old system is not compatible with our new HD service. That means that when a bear is in an area with an old camera, he or she will not be visible on the Panda Cam.

So why not simply rotate a bear outside where he is accessible both to the visiting public and the Panda Cam? We would do that, under typical circumstances. However, we have a few other factors at play that are influencing our decisions about panda placement. For one, the panda gift shop is being rebuilt. During the construction, we are watching the bears very closely to document their response to this disturbance and ensure the welfare of our animals throughout the process. We are in a current holding pattern of minimizing all other transitions for the bears to further reduce any potential stressors. That means we are keeping animal rotations to an absolute minimum so long as the bears seem comfortable.

We are also creeping close to the breeding season for our adults. The main viewing exhibits are the home base for Bai Yun and Gao Gao once estrus begins, and the place where any breeding would occur if the two were inclined to copulate. Bai Yun has been doing a little scent marking lately, although she is likely weeks away from beginning her estrus. Even so, this is just another factor in play when we make determinations about which bear will be in any given spot on any given day.

Currently, Yun Zi is being housed in an area with the old cameras, which is why you haven’t seen him. He spends his days with access to behind-the-scenes bedrooms and off-exhibit outdoor areas, including our “classroom” exhibits. If he is high in one of his trees, a Zoo guest can catch a glimpse of him when strolling past the facility or riding the moving walkway to the landing near Owens Aviary. If Yun Zi is on the ground or in his bedroom, all areas fitted with older cameras, he is not visible to the public.

But even when he is out of sight, he is clearly not out of mind for our readers. You’ll have to be content to know that we are taking great care of our young male, and he is happy and healthy and content. Soon enough, when the time is right, he’ll be back in view in the exhibits. And if Bai Yun mates again this spring, she will eventually be pulled off exhibit for an extended period as we watch her for signs of pregnancy. Yun Zi and Gao Gao will be our panda ambassadors, but many will ask: when is Bai Yun coming back on exhibit?

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Changes for Gao Gao.

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Bai Yun Scent Marks

Bai Yun explores her exhibit during December's snow day.

Panda Trek at the San Diego Zoo was full of excitement on Friday, February 17! Bai Yun was scent marking quite a bit that afternoon. She left markings along the ground at least a few times and also walked through the water in her pool. For the rest of the day she mostly ate and, of course, slept. At one point she dragged a very large piece of bamboo to the top of her rock cave. She then sat down and began to break the thick stalk of bamboo, impressing all of the observing guests.

Gao Gao was also on exhibit that day. After the keeper had replenished his food and cleaned his exhibit, he went on a “hunt” for his herbivore biscuits as well as the yams, carrots, and apples.  He seemed to climb under and even on top of his hammock to find his tasty treats. I also observed him climbing to the very top of the mock panda den to sit and have lunch, just as I’ve seen little Yun Zi do. Like father, like son!

Finally, once the sun started to go down and the Zoo was closing, both Bai Yun and Gao Gao went inside their bedrooms for a nice nap, which is always a great ending to a great day at Panda Trek.

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

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Pandas: Thinking of Love

Red panda Lily at home in Panda Trek.

Springtime is around the corner at the San Diego Zoo, but it’s not flowers or Valentine’s Day that makes me think of love here. It’s our pandas! Of course Bai Yun, our giant panda mother, breeds with Gao Gao in the spring, and she has had five cubs born at our zoo. They have been very successful as a pair, and Gao Gao has sired four cubs with Bai Yun (the first cub was born through artificial insemination before Gao Gao came to San Diego.) But what makes me chuckle recently is that there is a small patch of dirt usually just above Bai Yun’s tail where she sits on the ground of her enclosure. Looking at that patch of dirt can be intriguing. We have seen many shapes in that patch, and lately it seems to be taking on the shape of a heart. Will Gao Gao and Bai Yun mate this spring? Is it a sign? At this point, only the pandas know for sure, but the Panda Team will keep a close eye on our dynamic panda duo to see if Bai Yun goes into estrus this spring.

The “other” pandas are also making me think of love and have gained quite a following. Red panda Lily recently got introduced to her new mate, Flynn. You can now see them both on exhibit. Lily has a whiter face and Flynn has more reddish flecks on the side of his face. They are both a little over a year old. Red pandas become sexually mature at 18 months old and are fully mature at 2 to 3 years old. Let’s hope that the red pandas follow in Bai Yun and Gao Gao’s footsteps. While both pandas species share a name, giant pandas are bears and red pandas are in their own family group, Ailuridae. No matter which type of panda you are talking about, though, no one disputes that both species are adorable!

Michelle Penick is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Pandas: Like Son, Like Mother.

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Pandas: Another Switch

Bai Yun explored her snow-covered exhibit last month.

As we still have construction going on in Panda Canyon, we will playing “musical bears” for a bit. Currently on exhibit at Panda Trek are Bai Yun and Gao Gao. Bai Yun has been very busy since she moved back into public view. The last bear to be in her enclosure was Gao Gao, and she has spent the majority of her time re-scenting it. Gao Gao had done some handstand markings to make it look like a large bear was in the area, and Bai Yun decided that she was going to cover them up with her own scent. It was quite impressive to watch.

Throughout the day we also saw her smelling the air quite a bit. It’s been extremely windy in the canyons lately, and you can see the dust getting picked up in the air and swirling around the bears. Both Bai Yun and Gao Gao were lifting their heads to get a good whiff of what was around them.

Gao Gao also was busy for a part of the day. As Yun Zi had been the previous occupant of Gao’s enclosure, it needed to be re-scented. For a good part of the day, handstands were performed, and scent marking on logs and rocks was seen. By the early afternoon, Gao Gao needed a good nap but was up by 2:30 p.m., getting ready for more bamboo. One thing I can say about our bears is that they are very good about letting us know when it’s time for their next food delivery!

We encourage you to come see Bai Yun and Gao Gao while they are on exhibit, as we will not be having a set schedule of how long they will be out before we do another switch. We are doing our best to ensure that the pandas are comfortable during this construction period. That may mean that one bear may have access to a bedroom area for a short time or we may again play “musical bears.” Either way, we want to thank you all for your understanding and hope that you come see us soon!

Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Scents for Pandas.