Panda Updates – Monday, February 26
It’s been awhile since I spent time in the giant panda building, and the biggest change is how big the girls have gotten. Time flies so fast – I can’t believe that they’re already old enough and ready to wean! I’ve been following the updates for the last few months with all of you, and I was really excited to have the opportunity to work a couple of days in pandas recently.
We are continuing to follow the stepwise process for weaning Ya Lun and Xi Lun from Lun Lun, and everything is going according to plan. Since beginning the process last Monday, February 19, we have now successfully moved on to the next step, in which Lun and the girls spend time together during the day and are separated overnight. During this time, the girls are housed in Dayroom 2, and Lun Lun is housed in the dens furthest from the girls. This housing arrangement continues to mimic the visual/olfactory/auditory distance that Jen described last week, except this time the distance is overnight and longer, about 15 hours.
Saturday night was the girls’ first night away from their mom, and I am happy to report that the girls were sleeping soundly when I arrived yesterday morning. When we cleaned their overnight areas, we noticed that all three pandas ate very well. This is exactly what we hoped for and exactly what we expected to see. Reuniting the girls with Lun in the morning was fairly uneventful – both girls greeted their mom, who came right out and got a drink of water before settling down to eat bamboo. After the girls convinced Lun to let them nurse (she initially refused their attempts), they pretty much went their separate ways. One cub stayed in the vicinity to eat bamboo with her mom, while the other wandered up the structure to nap. Other than a few nursing sessions, Lun and the girls didn’t spend too much time together all day (except during the pictured biscuit feeding). When it was time to separate them last night, there were no complaints from the girls or Lun Lun. All three settled in to eat or nap right away, almost as if this was a normal part of routine.
Keeper II, Mammals