It has been a couple of months, but I’m happy to report that giant panda Yun Zi is now on exhibit for guests to view. Sunday, May 13, was his first day back, and he was putting on quite a show for our lucky guests in the morning.
Since father Gao Gao was in that exhibit previously, Yun Zi spent the morning scent marking the entire exhibit. He also was running around and rolling around to show off and have fun. When the front viewing area was redone a couple of years ago, our keepers tried to keep panda youngsters in mind when they requested more climbing structures. Yun Zi is the perfect example of why that is so important for a young, growing panda. He was climbing, scent marking the tree and going all the way to the top to smell the air. It was really an amazing morning for our youngster!
Those who had not seen him in a while were shocked at how big Mr. Yun Zi has gotten. Currently, his weight is about 180 pounds, and he is looking like he is going to be rather tall as well. Since he is 2½ years old, he could potentially continue growing for a couple more years. But just like his parents, his weight can fluctuate with weather changes and different life changes (hormones). Many of our guests told me about being at the San Diego Zoo two years ago and seeing a little baby; they wondered what had happened to him. Just about all of them were astounded when I’d point to Yun Zi and say, “Here he is!”
If you get the chance, please come and visit him, and take a peak on the Panda Cam. As for mother Bai Yun, she has been moved into the north exhibit, which is currently closed to our guests, so that when we begin doing our thermal imaging on a regular basis she is easily accessible. Our first thermal imaging procedure has already taken place; Bai Yun cooperated beautifully, and we have nothing to report. Please remember that it can take a while for our researchers and vet staff to see anything that would indicate a pregnancy. Paws crossed!
Anastasia Horning, panda narrator at the San Diego Zoo.