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Panda Updates- Wednesday, June 8

If you’ve spent a lot of time watching the Panda Cam or hanging out in front of the giant panda habitats at the Zoo, you’ve probably noticed a pattern. The pandas are in an area full of bamboo, they eat, they sleep, they walk around for a bit, team members bring the panda inside so they can clean up the mess, and the panda is shifted back out into a clean area full of new bamboo again. All. Day. Long! But within that basic pattern, our care team is making hundreds of tiny decisions. 

As we go about our day, we monitor the pandas’ behavior. Is Lun Lun awake? Did Yang Yang just fall asleep? How long has Xi Lun been walking around the dayroom? We use the answers to these questions to decide things like which panda area is going to be cleaned first. For example, if Yang Yang is sleeping in the room next to Lun Lun, we don’t want to make a bunch of noise cleaning and potentially wake him up. If Lun Lun fell asleep before eating some of her morning bamboo, we can give her some leafeater biscuits and see if she is content to start eating that bamboo again before we completely clean her area and disrupt Yang Yang’s nap. In another scenario, we may see either Xi Lun or Ya Lun walking around a dayroom while her sister is still asleep, so we can try to quietly sneak some leafeater biscuits and bamboo through a mesh window to keep the awake panda happy until the other one wakes up, too. You can see a pattern here, too – we never want to wake a sleeping panda!  

When two pandas are awake at the same time, we look at their behavior. Is Yang Yang resting calmly on a log? Is Ya Lun trotting around and pouncing on her sister? If so, we’ll refresh the twins’ area first so Ya Lun is distracted by bamboo and Xi Lun can get a break from being her sister’s source of entertainment! Then it will be Yang Yang’s turn to get new bamboo since he has been waiting so patiently. Our care team is constantly weighing innumerable variables as we plan out our next steps in the day, and the best part of taking care of animals is that every day is a little different from the one before it! 

Michelle E.
Keeper III, Mammals


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