THE ONLY GIANT PANDA TWINS IN THE U.S. CELEBRATE SIXTH BIRTHDAY
Giant panda twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun turned 6 on September 3, 2022. On Saturday, September 10, the Panda Care Team observed the birthday in a joint enrichment celebration also honoring the twins’ father, Yang Yang, who turned 25 on September 9. For the twins, special enrichment included ice “cakes” shaped as the numeral six and containing frozen produce; birthday bags filled with leafeater biscuits; and a birthday banner. Yang Yang enjoyed similar birthday surprises next door in an adjacent dayroom habitat in The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.
While Ya Lun can tend to be more hesitant to enter her dayroom habitat when unfamiliar items are present, sister Xi Lun showed no such reluctance, exploring all of the enrichment and tearing the banner.
The celebrations rounded out a season of giant panda birthdays at Zoo Atlanta. The twins’ mother, Lun Lun, turned 25 on August 25.
Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves, and eight of these reserves have been supported by Zoo Atlanta. Although the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated the species’ status from Endangered to Vulnerable in 2016, giant pandas remain heavily reliant on conservation programs. Their threats include habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities. Zoo Atlanta has contributed well over $16 million in support of wild giant pandas in China and has provided support for reforestation projects, conservation education programs, giant panda nurseries, and field research programs and supplies.