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Panda Updates – Wednesday, February 21

Over the past month or so, we have seen Lun Lun choose to spend much less time with the cubs than she previously did. Conversely, both cubs have also been spending much of their time away from Lun Lun. This is a good sign to us that the cubs are ready for the next step in their development. As mentioned in Monday’s update, we have begun the process of weaning Ya Lun and Xi Lun from Lun Lun. Weaning is a natural process that normally occurs with giant pandas between 17 and 20 months of age. Up until now, everything with the process is progressing smoothly, and everyone is behaving exactly as we have expected. Lun Lun has gotten to spend the last few days in Habitat 2, an area she hasn’t seen since before the cubs were born! She has been pretty happy out there by herself as long as she has yummy bamboo. To simulate what would happen in the wild, we are housing the twins in Dayroom 2, which is the furthest spot from Habitat 2. This ensures that the twins and Lun Lun can’t see/hear each other while apart to minimize any potential stress of the weaning process. In the wild, Mom would simply wander off and would thus also be out of sight/hearing from her offspring, so this normal.

While on their own, the twins have done very well hanging out eating, playing, and sleeping. We’re also increasing the time we spend in training activities with them to continue to build our relationships. As we mentioned on Monday, the system we use is very gradual so is not an abrupt transition for Ya Lun and Xi Lun or Lun Lun. This first week Lun and the twins will be spending about six hours apart during the day. So far, once reunited in the afternoons, the girls have really only been interested in Mom when they want to nurse, but otherwise the reunions have been rather uneventful … which is exactly what we hope for and expect to see! The first day, Ya Lun didn’t even wake up from her nap!

Be sure to join us tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST for a Facebook Live event. (Photo by Jen. W)
Jen W.
Keeper III, Mammals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl