After five long months of waiting, the day has finally come! Xiao Liwu will greet his adoring fans tomorrow, January 10, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. It is an exciting time for all of us!
Xiao Liwu has been making his way out to the north exhibit with his mother for a few weeks now. Each adventure out to the exhibit has given our little guy time to practice his climbing skills and get the lay of the land. Xiao Liwu has explored every inch of the exhibit, from the climbing structure to the moat, from the empty pool to the bushes and stumps. He has made his way up to the high branches of the climbing structure and continues to learn how to get down: backward, forward, or hang and drop, sometimes taking quite a tumble! Little Xiao Liwu reminds us that panda babies are made to bounce!
During his practice outings, we have discovered that Xiao Liwu’s favorite place to nap is in the moat. We covered the bottom of the moat with hay to act as a cushion in case of a panda spill; sure enough, Xiao Liwu made his way down there and decided that it is the perfect place for a snooze after a play session. If you come to visit and don’t see our little star, he is most likely napping at the bottom of the moat. If only he knew that he has so many admirers waiting to see him in the fur!
Mr. Wu, as we affectionately call him, will be on display for a couple hours in the mornings for the first few weeks. This will give him time to acclimate to the sights and sounds of our guests. Although he is used to his keepers, Xiao Liwu has never seen large crowds of people, and he will need time to get used to his fans. As he gets more comfortable being on exhibit, we will increase viewing hours.
As one of his caretakers, I am excited to see how our little guy will react to seeing his adoring fans. He did great at the employee and media preview today! Knowing his easy-going personality, I’m pretty sure Xiao Liwu will smile big for the cameras, climb up to a high branch to hang, drop, or somersault, and retire to the moat for a nap.
Elizabeth Simmons is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Panda Cub: Exam 6.