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pandas at San Diego Zoo

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Yun Zi and Hammock Update

Here's another view of the new artificial tree.

Here’s another view of the new artificial tree.

It’s been great to see giant panda Yun Zi’s exhibit go through so many changes in such a short time, and we are not done yet! He will get a hammock. His old one is badly torn up—they don’t last forever with all the use they get. Our Exhibits Team is on the job making a new one, but we have to be patient. They are extremely busy with projects all around the San Diego Zoo. Also, as keepers, we need to find the perfect place to hang the hammock so he will both use it and remain visible for visitors.

It’s been an experience to see Yun Zi sleep at the top of his 15-foot tree—now he can see his mom and baby brother. He is also enjoying the new location of his “lounge chair,” and the guests can now see him up close. Tomorrow, our Horticulture Team is going to help us add new plants and sod to both exhibits. Yun Zi is also continuing his blood-draw training, so we will be able to get a blood sample without using anesthesia. He is excelling with all his training.

Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

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Gifts that Keep on Giving

Zhen Zhen

Perhaps it was something in the air—a steady breeze through much of yesterday morning at the San Diego Zoo, with just the tiniest hint of fall in Panda Canyon—but first Su Lin and then Zhen Zhen, in tag-team fashion, were romping and stomping their way through the late morning. Su Lin was racing around her trees, hanging by her heels and wrestling with, well, anything and nothing, in the best “I’m the coolest panda on the block” fashion.

It went on for quite a while, and just when it seemed that she was going to plop in the pool to cool off, she reared up repeatedly, splashing herself with both paws. For those of us here and those of you lucky enough to have caught it on Panda Cam, it was heaps of fun and the most active I’d seen her in the mornings in quite awhile (although the keepers told me she’s had these bouts of activity over the past few afternoons).

About the time Su was winding down, the line of guests through the exhibit stopped, backed up, and was laughing loudly, a sure sign that ZZ had taken over the entertainment. A brown plastic doughnut had been hung on a tree limb in HER enclosure that morning (see post, Oh Boy, A New Toy!), and she’d obviously discovered this new bit of wonderfulness. Smaller than her sister by many pounds, ZZ had more success trying to stick limbs, head, and rear in various combinations than had Su, but the bear seen by some of you yesterday rolling in the doughnut down the hill was undoubtedly ZZ. (Su had a feeder puzzle. The keepers are equal-opportunity enrichers, remembering that the random access to enrichment is what makes it so intriguing to the animals.)

Gao Gao is doing just fine and getting his share of enrichment as well. It’s shady and quiet in the back area where he’s housed, and he’s always been quite content to hang out back there and chill.

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the first physical with the newest cub. It appears to croak more than squawk; is this because of Bai’s superb mothering or the cub’s disposition? One thing is sure: we’ve lots more waiting and lots more to discover about this newest resident at the Giant Panda Research Station.

Ellie Rosenbaum is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.

Note: We’d like to thank those of you who have “adopted” our pandas or helped with our Animal Care Wish List. These donations help us purchase these fun enrichment items for our pandas and other animals in our care.

Here’s a double-time video of Zhen Zhen taken from Panda Cam: