It’s amazing how long it takes to prepare for a panda birth (months) vs. how long it takes to dismantle the nursery and re-merge the building (less than one week). If you join us for a Wild Encounter, the only remnants you will see of the nursery is the playpen and a table with a scale on it. We have been watching the girls closely and have noticed that Ya Lun and Xi Lun no longer use the nest box in Den 2, so this morning we decided to remove it. It’s a bittersweet change for sure, but we’re happy to see the girls beginning to explore and become comfortable in the rest of their space.
The girls are showing us that they are growing up in other ways too. Both cubs are starting to show interest in Lun Lun’s biscuits and produce. We have seen Ya Lun and Xi Lun both play with and bite pieces of apple and red leafeater biscuits. When I closed the other night, I scattered Lun Lun’s overnight biscuits throughout her dens. When I made my last rounds through the building, I found the girls in Den 1 gumming some of Lun Lun’s biscuits. Lun Lun showed up and stole the biscuit that Xi Lun was gumming, but Ya Lun scurried behind the scale before Lun could get to her. I never saw Ya Lun drop the biscuit, so it’s possible that she consumed it. This is normal behavior for cubs at this age. Although they still rely solely on mom’s milk for their nutrition, they will begin experimenting with food over the next few months. Biscuits are usually the first item that cubs become interested in because they can break them down easily with their baby teeth. Lun Lun is, of course, not pleased with this development because biscuits are delicious! Don’t worry, the cubs won’t steal too many of Lun’s biscuits at this point, and if she takes them, they usually can find another one later to steal.
Keeper II, Mammals