Yun Zi enjoys a holiday "tree" during snow days last month.
If you come to the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Trek right now you may see a familiar face on exhibit. It’s Yun Zi! Currently we have the two boys out for public viewing as we continue construction projects in Panda Canyon, so we have shifted Bai Yun into our indoor area where she has access to her bedroom, sun room, and garden room. Our keepers say that she is loving life, enjoying the quiet time to herself, and eating quite a bit.
Outside, however, Yun Zi is making his presence known. One his first day back in the main viewing area he was re-scenting the enclosure that Gao Gao is usually in. He had a busy day performing handstands on the walls, trees, and, of course, his water dish. He was exhibiting some great behaviors, covering up another male’s scent!
Yun Zi now weighs 158 pounds (72 kilograms) and is filling out nicely. He is eating very well and I think he looks very impressive. Yun Zi is doing training with his keeper as often as possible so that as he gets bigger and older we can perform some of the same husbandry activities as we do for his parents, such as blood draws and ultrasounds.
Gao Gao is also doing very well. He has moved into Bai Yun’s normal enclosure (the left-side exhibit), and the first day he was also re-scenting the walls. As Bai Yun doesn’t do handstands like males do, most of Gao’s time was spent marking the ground and the top of the cave where she likes to sleep. Gao Gao is currently at 165 pounds (75 kilograms) and has been enjoying his panda bread. As some of you know, he has had a few dental issues, something older pandas often experience, but is doing well. The bread is offered to increase the amount of fiber in his diet by incorporating bamboo in a softer form. He currently gets very thin bamboo, and his panda bread is being mixed with some of those yummy leaf eater biscuits to add taste and, of course, nutrition.
The boys have not been too curious about the bear next door, although I have seen each put his head back, smelling the air. Of course, there could be a number of things to smell, but having another male that close should let us see some interesting behavior in the future. As Gao Gao is not much of a climber, it will most likely be Yun Zi who will be looking over the wall. Yun Zi is a very good climber, and when Bai Yun was next door, he would often climb up the tree and smell the air. Bai Yun has never really exhibited any interest in her son next door. I know for some that may seem cold, but these animals are naturally solitary and really do prefer to be by themselves. Watching them on a daily basis, I can honestly say that they thrive in their natural state.
Come see Yun Zi soon, and please don’t mind the construction going on right now!
Anastasia Horning is a panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Construction in Panda Trek.