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panda convention

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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

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Black and White Obsession

Yun Zi

Fifty panda lovers (all readers of this blog post) gathered together for the first time at the Zoo Saturday morning. What fun it was to meet them in person, a delightful group of people who share a contagious passion for our black-and-white bears! A while back, one of our readers mentioned it would be fun to meet other contributors to the comment section, and soon Black and White Obsession 2010 was born. Working with the Zoo’s event specialist, they put together a fun itinerary for the day.

It was easy to pick out members of the group: many were wearing blue T-shirts with a cute panda mother and cub image. That same image also adorned canvas tote bags each participate received. Everyone had a cute panda button name tag, and it was fun to watch as people who have conversed through panda blog comments got to meet each other at last and put a face to a name.

Two Zoo educators took the group to the panda exhibit to see Su Lin, Bai Yun, and little Yun Zi before ushering them into the off-exhibit classroom area to see Zhen Zhen. The group then climbed aboard a double-decked bus for a private guided tour of the rest of the Zoo before gathering in our Treetops facility to meet one of our panda keepers, Juli Borowski.

Juli took any and all questions posed to her during this special chat, sharing a typical day, the challenges of working with pandas, and the personalities of each one. She even brought plaster castings of Mei Sheng’s paw prints, taken when he was just six months old. Deputy Moderator Wendy Perkins joined me as we answered questions about moderating the blogs (not nearly as interesting a topic as chatting with a panda keeper, but the group made us feel just as important!).

I hope those who attended will share the adventure from their point of view here in this comment section. And I’m sure some will be posting their photos on the Panda-Fandom Worldwide Facebook page. On behalf of the San Diego Zoo and the Panda Team, I thank everyone who has shown such an interest in pandas. We still have so much to learn about these charismatic creatures, and it’s so nice to know we can all share and learn together!

Debbie Andreen is an associate editor and blog moderator for the San Diego Zoo.

Here’s a link to a photo gallery taken by our local paper of the panda fans…