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Panda Updates – Friday, August 18

This is the first time I have been around for a panda birthday, and it’s super fun that all four giant pandas are celebrating their birthdays so close to one another. If you have followed the Zoo Atlanta pandas for a while, you know that every year each panda is presented with an ice “cake” filled with their favorite scents and food items. So what exactly goes into making these ice cakes?

First and most importantly, it’s a team effort by the entire panda care staff. We brainstormed ideas for this year as well as talked about methods from previous years that worked well. After a final design is chosen, a detailed day by day schedule of what has to be completed is written out so that we can make sure we get the cakes done on time. It’s not quite as simple as freezing a few buckets of water and stacking them atop one another.

To get the varying colors and layers, we have to freeze everything in stages, being sure we account for what the next step is. This includes many trips up to the Animal Nutrition Kitchen freezer , where we have been lucky enough to have our own little space to work in. The Animal Nutrition Kitchen staff has been very accommodating, and they don’t hesitate to help us with the emergency sweet potato we might need to stabilize the latest tier we have made.

Working primarily in a freezer means taking turns tapping out with the other keeper you’re working with to ensure that the cake is the only thing that freezes. While we have a pretty detailed plan of what we are going to do, we have to improvise and ideas come up as we go. It’s been fun to watch all our work come together! Lun Lun’s cake is just about finished for her birthday in a week, and the other cakes for the twins and Yang Yang are being executed and planned as well. I’d show you a picture, but I’d hate to ruin the surprise! So for now enjoy this picture of Xi Lun in the “panda puddle” pose, and make sure you come visit or tune into Panda Cam next week to see the final product!
Danica W.
Swing Keeper I, Mammals

(photo by Danica W.)

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