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Panda Cub Updates (January - June 2011)

Wednesday, June 29
Over the last few days we have had some very active and playful pandas. Heather placed the half barrel in the dayroom with Lun Lun and Po for the first time, and Po loved it.  He has returned to it many times, climbing in and out, over and over.  Lun Lun has even played with Po while he has been in the half barrel. Yang Yang must have decided not to be left out of the fun. He decided that he would once again be the running, frolicking bear of his younger years.  He was doing one of my favorite panda moves, biting his paw and shaking his head, as if his paw was the best toy ever. We hung a jolly ball on the climbing structure and he was just running around and attacking it. It was a joy to see Yang Yang enjoy some play time.
Kate Roca
Mammal Swing Keeper III

Friday, June 24
Sometimes Lun Lun seems to be a totally different mother to Po than she was to her other two cubs. Not in a bad way, just different. For example, Lun Lun has never shared food well with her cubs. However, yesterday, I saw Po take the piece of bamboo that Lun Lun was eating away from her to play with it. She just moved on to another piece. I just stared at the monitor, thinking to myself, “Who is this panda!?” Lun Lun would have never tolerated that behavior from Mei Lan or Xi Lan! I have seen her push both of them away from her bamboo while she was eating and pull pieces of bamboo away from them that she wanted. Also, if Mei Lan or Xi Lan wanted a biscuit or piece of fruit, they would have to sneak it away from Lun Lun, and even then, she would still often take it away from them. Conversely, with Po, I have seen her sniff him when he was eating a biscuit or banana and then just move on, looking for her own food.  I wonder what has motivated Lun Lun to change her behavior in such a way. Whatever her reasons, I have enjoyed watching her with all three cubs, and clearly, she can still surprise me!
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, June 20
For the past couple of days, we've been switching the pandas around in terms of where they get to spend the day. Usually Lun Lun and Po are in Dayroom 1 with occasional access to Habitat 1 when the temperature isn't blistering hot.  This leaves the off exhibit dens and Dayroom 2 as the other alternatives for Yang Yang and Xi Lan when it gets too warm for them to be outside.  Lun Lun was, for the longest time, uncomfortable with being in Dayroom 2 - maybe because it always smelled strongly of Xi Lan and Yang Yang.  Just recently, however, Lun Lun has gotten over her issues with Dayroom 2 and we've been able to put her and Po in there (and Po LOVES the teepee climbing structure!). Then we can rotate the boys in Dayroom 1.  I think Yang Yang and Xi Lan are very happy to have a change of scenery and it gives the keepers more options in terms of shifting the bears throughout the day!
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Carnivores

Wednesday, June 15
Yesterday Po slept in the outdoor exhibit for the first time. Until now, his forays outside have been tended to be brief. He has seemed to enjoy exploring the outdoors, but would return to the dayroom when it was naptime. Sleeping outside yesterday is a good sign that he is feeling comfortable outside. His time out there will have to be limited over the summer, though. Atlanta has been experiencing unusually high temperatures so far, which means the pandas have to be brought inside by mid-morning. Because of this, we will likely wait until fall to give Po and Lun Lun access to the larger outdoor habitat, unless we get a break in the hot weather before then.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Monday, June 13
Po is turning into one feisty little cub! I wasn't working in the department when Xi Lan and Mei Lan were growing up, but from I hear, they weren't quite as feisty as little Po is getting. Not that he's so little anymore - he's pushing 13.5 kg! I remember when I first started here and he was less than half his current weight. Seeing him every day, it's hard to notice any big changes but it dawned on me a couple of days ago just how big he's gotten! And much more bolder and confident with the keepers as well.  Usually, if he's on the structure in dayroom 1 - snoozing or awake - we'll go in and clean up the area after shifting Lun Lun out. He usually does a good job of staying up there but he definitely follows our every movement now and it almost looks like he's contemplating coming down to see if we want to play. This is why we make a point of giving him a piece of bamboo to play with to keep him occupied while we're in there cleaning. Which is probably a good thing because when Po's in the mood, he can move really fast for a 7 month old cub!
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Carnivores

Friday, June 10
We have had extremely hot weather here in Atlanta for the past two weeks, so the pandas have not been able to go outside. The pandas do not like to go outside when it is above 75 degrees, and recently it has been above that when the keepers arrive at 7:00 a.m. However, this last week, the mornings have been slightly cooler, so we have been working on getting Lun Lun and Po out in the habitat to help Po get more accustomed to being outside. So far, Po has not been very comfortable in the outdoor habitats, and the first day we tried them outside this week, he wouldn’t even go out with Lun Lun. But by Thursday, he started venturing slightly away from his mother. I saw him playing on and underneath the climbing structure and he checked out the cave. Every year the summer heat prevents us from using the habitats, but hopefully, by the time the temperatures are cooler, Po will have grown more confident and not mind having new adventures.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Wednesday, June 8
The hammock in Dayroom 1 is a favorite spot for the pandas. Lun Lun, in particular, often enjoys nursing Po while sitting in the hammock. Because the hammock is so popular, we need to remove it occasionally for cleaning. This week the keepers removed the hammock so they can get it cleaned up. The hammock is cleaned the same way we clean other things in the building, by rinsing it, scrubbing it and rinsing it again. The tricky part about the hammock is that it doesn’t dry as easily as some of the other items, so we typically put it outside in the sun to speed up the process. I imagine it will dry pretty quickly, given the current temperatures, and then we’ll get it right back into the dayroom.
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Friday, June 3
Overnight, we rotate where all of the pandas get to sleep so life isn't monotonous. Lun Lun and Po usually sleep in the dens (while Xi Lan and Yang Yang get to rotate sleeping in Dayroom 2 and the dens) but since little Po is starting to really get big (and a bit mischievous), we've decided to let Lun Lun and Po have access to Dayroom 1 overnight. Po loves this! By the afternoon, nine times of out 10, Po is passed out on the structure in Dayroom 1 and usually his mom has to drag him off it. But now on some nights he gets to sleep as much as he wants up there! We usually end up leaving and returning the next morning with Po still up in the structure snoozing the time away.
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Carnivores

Wednesday, June 1
Watch out Lun Lun, there is a biscuit thief in town. Po has discovered Lun Lun’s leafeater biscuits and loves to steal some of Lun Lun’s serving. We have noticed that if we toss a few in the hammock while he is sleeping in the tree, he will wake up and climb down to find and eat them. He has gotten very good at consuming them; he sits back like an adult bear and holds the biscuit in his pseudo-thumb and slow snacks on it till it is gone. Then he is off to find the next biscuit.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Monday, May 30
A few days ago one of the other keepers, Katie, made some frozen popsicle treats for the pandas. She froze a piece of sugarcane (the *ultimate* treat as far as a panda is concerned) in water. Once the water froze, we placed the frozen treats out for all the bears. Xi Lan initially ignored his but eventually came back to it and worked his amazing jaw muscles on the ice to break it apart to get to the piece of sugarcane. It was fun to watch him manipulate the ice, licking it, chewing on it, trying everything to get that piece of sugarcane out! Yang Yang - in typical Yang Yang fashion - merely kicked his frozen treat into a patch of sun in Dayroom 2 and waited until the ice had melted. Lun Lun also ignored her treat in the beginning, but it wasn't long before Po found it! He didn't know what to make of this new thing and I think it might have been his first interaction with ice! We had it perched on the structure in Dayroom 1 and watched as he sniffed it and eventually pawed it onto the floor. Everything Po finds that he wants to explore and chew on he attempts to bring with him to the top of the structure to his favorite spot and this was no exception. He tried and tried to wrestle the slippery treat back up the structure but eventually gave up. Later on when we were cleaning the dayroom we found no evidence of the popsicle treat so we assume Lun Lun found it and devoured it!
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Carnivores

Friday, May 27
Kate and I have had many questions from visitors about the maternal training we have done with Lun Lun since Kate wrote an update about it a few weeks ago.  I will try to address some of those questions in my update today.  We started working with Lun Lun to bring in her cubs once Mei Lan was mobile and going out on exhibit with her.  It was a difficult behavior to train because we had to “capture” the behavior, meaning, we had to wait for Lun Lun to do something close to what we wanted and reward her for that.  Once that occurred, we could then “shape” the behavior, which means, we would reward progressive steps towards the desired behavior until she was doing exactly what we wanted her to do.  It took a long time, but eventually, she started taking Mei Lan with her when she shifted inside.  Once Xi Lan was out and about with Lun Lun, we reintroduced the behavior.  Lun Lun remembered it and perfected her technique by calling Xi Lan first and if he did not respond, she would go and get him.  While Xi Lan was small, Lun Lun became very reliable with this behavior.  With Po, the behavior has progressed even further. Lun Lun now anticipates that we will want her to bring Po inside with her, so she often does not want him to climb up on the structure to sleep when it is getting close to time for us to feed her.  So, they will play the game on the structure where she pulls him down and he climbs back up repeatedly.  Poor Po!  Lun Lun is too smart for her own good sometimes!  However, as Kate said, this behavior is very helpful for us until Po is shifting reliably on his own.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Wednesday, May 25
I don't get to make it down to giant pandas very often, but every time I do, I am always amazed with the progress that Po has made. For starters, he has surpassed the 12.0 kg mark. The last time I was down here, he would slowly follow Lun Lun around in the morning in the dens or on exhibit. Today there was no slow following, but instead there was fast chasing. Lun Lun wasn't able to get away from him fast enough.  When he caught up, he of course wanted to wrestle. She obliged him for a short time, but was more interested in getting her breakfast. I placed Lun Lun's bowl of biscuits on the scale in the morning in order to weigh them. Lun Lun slowly got on the scale and began enjoying her biscuits, but Po had other ideas.  He quickly raced over to the scale, climbed up, and proceeded to sit in Lun Lun's food bowl, claws up.  Lun Lun would not have any of this and quickly removed him from the bowl so she could resume eating.  Po, not wanting to be put in his place, repeated the previous steps. Lun Lun once again removed him. This repeated four times, until Lun Lun was finally finished with her biscuits and walked away. By this time, I had the exhibit ready for them, and so I shifted Lun Lun out into the dayroom. In the past, I would sometimes have to wait nearly 10 minutes for Po to shift out behind her. Today, he looked like grease lightning, and was right on her heels. Of course, shortly after burning all this energy, like all babies, Po needed a recharge. He was fast asleep in his favorite spot in the tree within 30 minutes. Also different, he was up and ready to go again an hour later when the exhibit opened to visitors for the day.
Kenn Harwood
Lead Keeper of Carnivores

Monday, May 23
Today for enrichment, we decided to give all the pandas paper bags with scents on the outside and treats inside. Lun Lun at first ignored the bag and went straight for her bamboo. After a couple of minutes, she found it, ignored the scent that was on the bag, and went straight to tearing the bag open to get her treats. Xi Lan reacted the same way with his bag. When it came time for Yang Yang to get his bag, we placed it on the top of the structure in Dayroom 2 and on his bag we put his favorite scent, Tabasco. We waited and waited to see how he would react to his bag, but Yang Yang decided he wanted to eat his bamboo first. Once we had our backs turned Yang found his bag and ripped it open. We were so bummed that we did not get to see his reaction to the scent on the bag!
Katie Gatlin
Keeper I, Mammals

Wednesday, May 18
Not much new is going on with Po. His weight is up to 11.3 kg (25 lbs). He climbs well (even when Lun Lun is repetitively pulling him down), and he is starting to interact with different enrichment items. Since he and Lun Lun seem to be so comfortable while on exhibit, we have been letting them stay out on exhibit till at least 3:30 in the afternoon. Sometimes we are able to keep them happy, fed, and comfortable for longer, but if you want to guarantee that you see Po when you visit, make sure you stop by before 3:30. If you can’t visit, check him out on PandaCam, Monday-Friday 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Monday, May 16
It's that time of the year again (or so I've been told, haha)! It’s arrow bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica) season! When I first came here, the other panda keepers warned me about arrow. The pandas love it; human skin hates it. Needless to say I was a little apprehensive when I heard we were going to start offering it.  But it's been a few days and I have to say, arrow bamboo isn't that bad. The pandas LOVE it - and the keepers are happy when the pandas are happy. And the issue with the skin? The sheath that protects the bamboo as it is growing out of the ground tends to irritate human skin by shedding nearly microscopic splinters when handled. But it hasn't been too bad, yet. So as of right now, arrow is my favorite mainly because I find it's easier to handle and the bears are going to town eating it.

Even little Po likes it!  He's been seen attempting to climb the bundle of arrow that we place out for Lun Lun. It looks stable enough to climb, because it's really long, thin bamboo with next to no leaves. One time he got halfway up a bundle we had propped against the climbing structure in Dayroom 1 before he fell off. He even wrestled a piece away from a bundle and tried to break it in half like he's seen Lun Lun do. Of course he hasn't succeeded yet, but he's got the right idea!
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Carnivores

Friday, May 13
On Wednesday Po went into the outside exhibit for the first time. He was curious, but slightly uncomfortable, as we expected. He explored the grass for a short time, but was more interested in the climbing structure. He walked all over the bottom level, but did not venture to the top. Once Lun Lun joined him outside, he stayed close to her. We have given Lun Lun and Po access to the outdoor exhibit every day since and slowly he is becoming more comfortable out there; however, he still sticks close to mom. It will not be long before Po becomes accustomed to his new environment. Perhaps once he discovers the cave or the grate at the bottom of the moat or the top of the climbing structure, he will have a new favorite place to sleep!
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Wednesday, May 11
First day exploring the outdoor exhibit

Monday, May 9
Over the last two weeks the all of the pandas have been enjoying an all time favorite food. This is the time of year when most bamboo species sprout new growth, which means the pandas are treated with soft, watery shoots. In the wild, pandas would eat up to 50 lbs. of bamboo shoots in a day. Here at Zoo Atlanta, we do not provide them in such large amounts, but the bears LOVE and enjoy what they do get. Even little Po is trying them out. Though not yet ingesting them, he has been seen mouthing and chewing on shoots from time to time. The time he spends playing with the shoots is just another way for him to learn about bamboo, which will soon be his main source of nutrition.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, May 6
We have had great panda weather the past few days - Yang Yang and Xi Lan have been thoroughly enjoying the cool temps. I can't wait until we're able to let Po out on his first supervised outside excursion in the habitat with mom Lun Lun! So many new things to smell and check out and places to hide - he won't know where to start! I also am looking forward to exiting out of this "we aren't happy with the bamboo" phase the bears are going through. It can be frustrating when they love the bamboo species we offer one day and then later that day or the next morning they want nothing to do with it. One species, Yellow Groove, is our go-to species that they usually eat without complaint.  But then a couple of days ago they stopped preferring it and moved on to the other species we're currently offering, Henon. Now they're over Henon and back on Yellow Groove...for the moment. As the newest panda keeper, I have learned quickly that bamboo preference can change with the wind and we're constantly on our toes making sure our pandas stay happy and full. It's a never-ending juggle, but that's one thing that makes this job so interesting and different every day!
Jen Webb
Carnivore Keeper I

Wednesday, May 4
Training is a very valuable tool that we use with the pandas to accomplish many tasks. One behavior that we have trained with Lun Lun is to have her get her cub and bring him/her with her when shifting to a different part of the building. It is quite neat to watch her understand the command and execute the behavior. We first open a shift door and ask both Lun Lun and Po to shift. This will help Po learn what the shifting command means as he grows. Normally Lun Lun comes right in, whereas Po continues to sleep, usually on the climbing structure. Next, we give Lun Lun the command to bring the cub in with her and she goes into action. First, she vocalizes many times and walks under his resting spot to get him to follow her. If he does not follow, she will climb up and get him. Once he is on the ground, he will fall in line and shift with her. Hopefully, Po will catch on quickly and learn to shift without Lun Lun’s assistance.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Monday, May 2
It has been said before that Po's climbing skills are improving, and he keeps getting better every day.  He has even changed his favorite place to be from the hammock to the top of the structure. Many of you will recall that this was also the favorite spot for both Mei Lan and Xi Lan. Po is also getting stronger, which is illustrated in the fact that Lun Lun has a much more difficult time getting him off the structure to nurse or to play. In between raucous play bouts with mom, Po can be seen snoozing the day away, usually intertwined in the upright logs which make up the back of the structure. In other news, Po has finally crossed the 10.0 kg mark. People often ask whether Po is larger or smaller than his two siblings when they were his age. I have looked back through the records and done the math. Mei Lan reached the 10.0 kg benchmark at 168 days. Xi Lan reached it at 171 days.  Po took his time reaching it, but still got there in 174 days. All and all, I would say that they were all about the same size.
Kenn Harwood
Lead Keeper of Carnivores

Friday, April 29
Now that Po is climbing well and can negotiate the indoor enclosures well, we are starting to prepare to give him and Lun Lun access to the outdoor enclosures. We always start with smaller of the outdoor habitats, and make a few changes to ensure that it is baby proof. Those changes include draining the pool or lowering the water level to about two inches, making sure the tree is appropriately protected so that he can’t climb out of the exhibit, and providing something to help him climb out of the moat. We have an erosion control sock that works great for this. After those modifications are in place, Po will spend some time in the exhibit closely supervised by the keepers to make sure he can negotiate the space well. After he has demonstrated that ability, he and Lun Lun will start having regular access to the outdoor exhibit when temperatures are cool enough.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, April 27
On April 20th, Kate and I managed to get some measurements on Po. He was very wiggly and we were working quickly, so even though we did our best, we are considering these measurements approximations. Here they are: Tip of nose to base of tail: 85.5 cm.; Tail length: 8 cm.; Neck girth: 38.5 cm.; Chest girth: 49 cm.; Abdominal girth: 53 cm.; Weight: 9.5 kg.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, April 25
New developments with Po! He is becoming more and more independent from mom every day. While on one hand this is a good thing (and expected), Lun Lun is starting to get a bit frustrated with Po's increasing lack of cooperation. For example: when it is time to bring Lun Lun and Po off exhibit, she usually calls for Po and he comes - or rather used to. Now she seems to spend more time trying to get his attention and chasing him down than she ever did. She'll pick him up and plop him next to the shift door and before she knows it, he's run off. I have to admit it's a bit amusing to watch until 5 minutes have gone by and he still won't listen to mom. Hopefully this phase won't last long for both Lun Lun's sake and ours.
Jen Webb
Keeper I Mammals

Friday, April 22
In a previous update, Heather mentioned that Po had started showing interest in bamboo and produce. Po continues to spend quite a bit of time manipulating bamboo and chewing on biscuits. Recently, though, he made quite a bit of progress in the food department. In one day, Po was observed chewing on chards that Lun Lun had discarded on the dayroom floor, consuming a portion of a biscuit and also consuming some apple. A biscuit starts off pretty hard, but after Po is finished chewing on it, it’s probably a bit softer and easier to eat. A piece of apple, however, is a slightly different story. It’s much firmer than a banana, which he’s already showed us he can eat. It’s interesting to watch giant panda cubs investigate and try new foods, especially as they learn to eat things that require a bit more work. Po currently weighs 9.5 kg, so he’s got a lot of bamboo, biscuits and produce to eat to get to his adult weight!
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, April 20
You may have noticed that Po’s white fur has a reddish brown overcast. This is especially noticeable on the back of his neck. This coloration is presumed to be caused by iron containing pigments called porphyrins in the mother’s saliva. This coloration only occurs in mother raised giant panda cubs and it is most prevalent for the first several months of the cub’s life when the mother grooms and carries the cub frequently. The coloration eventually fades and the fur becomes whiter. Researchers at San Diego Zoo first put forth this hypothesis about porphyrins. Giant panda saliva has not been tested for the presence of porphyrins, but they are common pigments in saliva and tears and this seems to be a highly plausible explanation for Po temporarily being a bit of a red head. 
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Monday, April 18
Po and Lun Lun love to play. When Po climbs to the top of the structure in the dayroom, Lun will come and pull him to the ground. It may look like she is being rough with him, but she in fact she really isn't. Today Po decided to sleep in a different place than in his usual hammock spot. He slept lying across the top of the climbing structure. He is so adorable!
Katie Gatlin
Mammals Keeper I

Friday, April 15
Guess who has a sweet tooth? Yes, our little Po has inherited his parents’ love of bananas! For the past two mornings, we have used a small slice of banana to keep Po occupied on the scale in the morning so we can weigh him and he loves it! Just like his older siblings, he initially ate it by sucking on it (right out of the peel), but he quickly started chewing it up. We got the idea to try feeding him banana because we have recently spotted Po sampling Lun Lun’s biscuits and fruit in the dayroom. Of course, Po’s main diet will continue to be his mother’s milk for several more months, but he is curious about the foods that his mother eats and wants to taste them. He has been chewing on and playing with bamboo for several weeks, but it was only over the weekend that Po showed an interest in the biscuits and produce that Lun Lun receives every day. Pandas love to eat and little Po is no different!
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Double Po,
as seen on PandaCam today!

Wednesday, April 13
We mentioned awhile back how we have removed the dividers in the birthing den that make up Lun Lun’s nest box. After the nest box was removed we still housed only Lun Lun and Po in these overnight areas to make sure she still felt comfortable and had a space of her own for her and Po. Well, as of this weekend, we have started to rotate the pandas through the night dens, which means that one of the males is sometimes housed in Lun Lun’s birthing den area while she and Po try out other night spaces in the building. Neither Lun Lun or Po has shown any dislike about the new arrangements. In fact, Po seems to enjoy exploring new and different areas, while Yang Yang and Xi Lan enjoy being in dens they have not seen in 6 months.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Monday, April 11
If you look in the dayroom in person or on PandaCam, you may notice an addition to the furniture of the room. As I was feeding Lun Lun some of her biscuits today, I noticed that Po has taken an interest in the automatic drinkers on the back wall. I watched him try to investigate it, but it was just a little too high for him. He could just get the tip of his paw over the top of the drinker. Noting this, I was able to install our "baby step" that will enable him to get up to the drinker. The step is made of coir or coconut husks and its primary use is for erosion control. We have found many other panda uses for these, however, as you will be able to see in the outside yards when we begin to baby-proof in preparation for Po and Lun going outside. When we placed this step by the drinker for Xi Lan years back, we were hoping he would be able to get up there and get a drink. He did that, but he also liked to use the drinker as a pseudo swimming pool. He was in that thing constantly it seemed. We don't know what Po is going to do with the drinker himself, but it will definitely be interesting to find out.
Kenn Harwood
Lead Keeper of Carnivores

Friday, April 8
If you’ve been watching Panda Cam, or seen Lun Lun and Po in person recently, you’ve probably noticed that they’re interacting with each other more and more.  Sometimes these interactions are obviously play, and other times what they’re doing is a little less clear.  For example, today I collected data on Lun and Po and Po was struggling to climb into the hammock.  Just when he had almost made it in, Lun came along and pushed him off and he landed with a thump on the ground.  What’s up with that?  I don’t have a good answer to that question, but I can tell you that it’s pretty typical behavior for Lun with her cubs.  I can also tell you that we keep a close eye on them and these interactions never cause any injuries to Po.  Giant panda cubs are pretty tough and do a lot of tumbling and falling on their own, even when their moms aren’t pushing them off the climbing structure! 

Lun and Po played for quite some time while I collected data and it was fun to watch.  We have microphones in the indoor dayrooms, which allowed me to hear what was going on during the play bout, in addition to seeing it.  Aside from a few small grunts, Po didn’t make any vocalizations to let his mom know that she was being too rough.  In fact, he went back for more whenever she walked away.  Even though it looks rough to us, Lun isn’t trying to hurt her cub.  In fact, she actually tones it down a bit, but it’s hard to play like a little cub when you weigh well over 200 pounds!

And no need to worry, because Po eventually made it back into the hammock for a nap when Lun settled down to eat.     
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, April 6
Hello! I thought maybe I should introduce myself - my name is Jen and I'm the newest member to the carnivore staff here at Zoo Atlanta! I have spent the last year or so interning and working as a seasonal keeper in other departments and am thrilled to finally call the panda building my home!  Learning the routine here in pandas is a lot of hard work, but getting to work with pandas makes everything worth it! The pandas and I are spending a lot of time getting to know each other. It seems Po and I have a lot in common; we're both rookies and are learning all about our new home together! Speaking of Po, the little cub is getting stronger every day. His favorite place these days seems to be the hammock. 'When in doubt, find the hammock' seems to be his motto!
Jen Webb
Keeper I, Mammals

Monday, April 4
Po is quite the climber. He now is able to climb into and out of the hammock to put himself to sleep, which is understandable after a big climb like that. He loves to play on the log structure in the dayroom as well. One other place Po loves to play is on the scales in the off exhibit dens. These scales are large, raised platforms built into the floors of two of the dens. He will climb on them, around them, and walk behind them. He also often sleeps behind them. Maybe because he feels hidden and secure there.
Katie Gatlin
Keeper I, Mammals

Friday, April 1
Po and Lun Lun continue to do well on exhibit. The keepers have been increasing the amount of time they are out each day. Now, visitors to the Zoo can expect to see Po and Lun Lun on exhibit from 9:30-1:30 each day. Some days they are on exhibit past 1:30, but visitors should plan to be at the giant panda exhibit before 1:30 if they want to be sure to see Po. At nearly five months of age, Po is right on track developmentally. He continues to work on his climbing skills, which seem to improve each day. He is still very young and, like most young animals, he spends quite a bit of sleeping. Luckily, he is adorable asleep or awake.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

 

Wednesday, March 30
A few months ago, the San Diego Zoo did some renovations in their giant panda exhibits and used a soil conditioner called Loamex. Afterwards, Bai Yun, Yun Zi and Gao Gao spent a lot of time playing in the soil and ended up covered in it many times. One of our wonderful docents and long-time panda fan, Stacy Watts, saw how much fun the San Diego pandas had playing in the Loamex and she decided she would like our pandas to have some as well. So, she raised the funds needed to purchase it from her fellow panda fans and soon we had our very own bags of soil just waiting for the pandas to enjoy. Well, they were not impressed. We tried it several times and they never showed any interest in the Loamex. A few weeks ago, our horticulture team even covered one habitat with it to help grass seed grow and still they ignored it. Until yesterday… again, our horticulture team covered the one of the habitats with the Loamex to help new grass seed grow. Later that afternoon, I shifted Yang Yang into that habitat while I refreshed his bamboo in the other habitat. Once I was ready to move him back to his fresh bamboo, I looked into the habitat where he was waiting and I saw a black bear had replaced Yang Yang! Unfortunately, I missed him rolling around in the dirt, I only saw the results. However, it looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed himself. A few hours later, Yang Yang had managed to remove most of the dirt from his coat and he looked like himself again. I don’t know what caused Yang Yang to suddenly decide he wanted to play in the Loamex, but I hope he continues to enjoy it.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

 

Monday, March 28
For those of you who watch the panda cam, you will notice a small change in the birthing den which is on the cam most of the time.  Po has now reached an age and has gained enough climbing ability that the nest box can no longer contain him, so it is no longer needed. We removed it Sunday morning, cleaned it, and stored it. So, it will be ready to use for the next cub. 

 

Po nearly hit the 8 kg mark this morning, weighing in at 7.9 kg.  This was, however, right before a nursing session. I have no doubt he could have broken that barrier had I weighed him a little later. 

 

Here in Atlanta we had a wet, cloudy day, but that didn't seem to matter too much to Po, as he went about his normal routine of sleeping, playing in the bamboo, sleeping, chasing his mom, nursing, sleeping. He has been climbing in and out of the hammock on his own now, as his climbing abilities have gotten much better. It won't be long before he gets good enough to reach the flat logs on the back of the climbing structure. That was the favorite resting spot for both of his siblings, Mei Lan and Xi Lan. 
Kenn Harwood
Lead Keeper of Carnivores

 

Friday, March 25
Along with the nice weather we’ve had, we’ve also had some good crowds at the Zoo. Despite the fact that Lun Lun and Po are behind glass in the dayroom, some amount of noise and commotion still reaches them. Po has been a champ with the big crowds outside the dayroom and seems to be oblivious to his popularity. Even camera flashes, which we normally ask guests to turn off when taking pictures, really haven’t fazed  him. It’s been good practice for him, because Spring Break is coming up in early April and we hope that even more of his fans will come to visit him. From the looks of it, Po is ready. His current weight is 7.7 kg.
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

 

Wednesday, March 23
Po has started to show more interest in enrichment items that we provide. This week I hung a jolly ball (i.e., 10 inch rubber ball with a handle) on the hammock in the day room. For the first hour he ignored and avoided it. But after a short nap he decided to investigate it. I guess he decided it was an ok item to play with because he chewed on it and tumbled over it for about 20 minutes until Lun Lun appeared for a nursing session. Keep an eye out for other items that we provide to keep him and all of the pandas enriched.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

 

Monday, March 21
Po is status quo. So I will take this opportunity to update you about cub number two, Xi Lan. Xi Lan was being his usual playful self the other day. He was running around, climbing on toys and charging at his bamboo. He would take the bamboo, climb into the hammock with it, and toss it around. He has quite the personality. My favorite thing to see Xi Lan do is hang upside down and play with a toy hanging from his structure that has some biscuits inside. He is quite the entertainer.
Katie Gatlin
Carnivore Keeper I

Friday, March 18
Giant pandas of all ages are masters at comfortably sleeping in a lot of uncomfortable looking locations. Lun Lun often sleeps on a climbing structure with her head hanging down off the edge. Yang Yang will snooze away pressed against the glass of the dayroom with hundreds of visitors loudly admiring him on the other side. Xi Lan can nap away the afternoon curled up on a drain cover in the rain. Po is proving to be like the rest of the family in his sleep habits. This morning he fell asleep on top of a log he was climbing. About 30 minutes into his nap, he slid off the log onto the ground and never woke up. That’s an amazing feat even for a panda!
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, March 16
Unlike our previous cubs, Po prefers to play with natural “toys” like his mother’s bamboo. So far, he has shown no interest in the small toys that Mei Lan and Xi Lan played with when they were Po’s age. I am sure he will become more interested in these items and other toys that our pandas enjoy as he gets older. However, for now, he is happy to play with bamboo and his mother.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, March 14
Po is intent on learning how to climb!  He has been able to get on top of the logs that are in the dayroom for a few days now, and so he is moving onto larger obstacles. On Sunday, he was trying repeatedly to climb up the large support logs to the structure. This is similar to what Xi Lan started with when he was first learning to climb. I do not know why they seem to choose the hardest location first. The logs that they attempt to climb are about 12” in diameter, and are perpendicular to the ground; this is not an easy feat for the novice climber. However, I am sure that it will not be long before Po has improved coordination and increased strength in his leg muscles enough to get to the top.
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, March 11
Paws! Paws! Paws! When Lun Lun is not around and Po wants to play he goes with what he has- his paws! It is very cute to see him lying on his back, wiggling all four feet around, and biting on one or two. This solitary play likely helps with muscle development and coordination and it’s just plain fun! It is a common behavior shown by panda cubs at this age.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Wednesday, March 9
Po has quickly adjusted to the dayroom exhibit. He is quite comfortable in there with or without his mother. Mei Lan and Xi Lan both preferred the den areas when they first started going out in the exhibits. Almost as soon as they were out in the dayroom, they would leave and go back to the familiar space of the dens. Po just prefers to be with Lun Lun and seems satisfied that if she put him somewhere, that must be an ok place to be, especially if she is there too. Lun Lun also seems much more at ease with Po in the dayroom than she was with either of her previous cubs. As we have mentioned here frequently, she is such a confident mother now and she knows the dayroom is safe and secure for Po. Po’s current weight is 6.7 kg.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, March 7
I think the hammock has become Lun Lun’s new favorite item on exhibit. It makes a wonderful cub storage, containment and nursing area. When Po goes out in the dayroom in the morning he can really get moving since his walking skills have improved. So she picks him up and sticks him in the hammock where he sleeps the rest of the day. I am sure it won’t be long until he can get out of the hammock on his own. Then the peace and quiet will be over for her.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, March 4
Recently I had the chance to spend a little time watching Lun Lun and Po. Lun was lying on her side, while Po pawed at her face and she gently pawed back. I think this is my favorite age for giant panda cubs. At this age, Po is walking and learning to navigate his space, but is also just discovering that in his mother, he has a great play partner. As he develops, he’ll refine his skills so that he becomes much more effective at interfering with her plans for the day, but right now he just seems to be figuring out what it means to interact with his mom. It’s always fun to watch giant panda mothers play with their cubs at this age, because they can be very gentle when they wrestle with and bite their cubs. We know from past experience that giant panda cubs are pretty tough, though, so it’s only a matter of time before the real vigorous wrestling begins!
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, March 2
Po is walking better and better everyday. This morning I watched him climb over a threshold and it took him less than a minute. Just last week it took him at least five minutes to surmount the same obstacle. Soon he will be running and climbing. His play behavior is also increasing. He and Lun Lun had a bout of play wrestling and biting yesterday that lasted about five minutes. These bouts will become more frequent and longer in the coming months. I wonder if Lun Lun is anticipating having him climbing and biting all over her while she is trying to eat and sleep. Her peaceful days and nights are soon coming to an end.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Friday, February 25
Po accomplished another first yesterday. He was able to climb up and over one of the shift door threshholds between two of the off exhibit dens. Lun Lun left him in one den and headed off to eat in the dayroom. Po decided that he wanted to return to the next box, and so off he went. It took him about four tries and 10 minutes to climb the 6 inch high threshold. But he was really determined and was able to make it over!

His weight at yesterday’s vet check was 5.98 kg.
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Wednesday, February 23
Po has been very busy over the last week! In addition to getting a name, he has worked out how to climb in and out of the nest box and yesterday Lun Lun took him out into the dayroom for the first time. I gave Lun Lun access to the dayroom around 8:30, where she spent about an hour eating, and by 9:45, she decided to carry Po out and sit with him in the hammock. Po nursed and then slept in the hammock while Lun Lun ate bamboo. Lun Lun left Po in the dayroom most of the day. She is such a confident mother now that she did not mind leaving Po in the dayroom while she ate in the dens later in the day. Lun Lun likes to keep us guessing, so I do not know if she will take Po out every day, but his first trip to the dayroom was very successful.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, February 21
Po (I still have the urge to write the cub) continues to make progress with his ability to walk. He has been seen more frequently walking, or attempting to maneuver around on all fours. Earlier this morning Lun left him in Den 1 to go and eat in another area, and he seemed to want to follow. His navigation was off, though, and he went completely in the opposite direction of where Lun had gone. Then he attempted to try to move the wall when he got stuck in a corner. Po was pushing with all his might to get through the wall, but the wall won. I guess that is a lesson that he still needs to learn. He eventually gave up, probably because he was tired, and just went to sleep.
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, February 18
Today Po was observed mouthing bamboo for the first time. Giant panda cubs normally start to mouth, chew on, and manipulate bamboo at around four months of age. As usual, Po is right on track and even slightly ahead of schedule. He might ingest tiny pieces of bamboo leaves occasionally when he does this, but he won’t truly start feeding on bamboo until he is 13-14 months of age. Until then, Lun Lun’s milk will be his only source of nutrition. He also spent some time looking over the edge of the nest box today. He is beginning to realize there is world outside of his nest box. Soon he will begin to explore it and soon after that his world will expand when we give him and Lun Lun access to the dayrooms.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, February 16
Yesterday was a day of celebration at Zoo Atlanta and for the rest of the giant panda community. Lun Lun's latest cub has finally crossed the 100 day barrier and has received a name. With the help of Jack Black of Kung Fu Panda fame, the cub was given the name "Po". You would never have known that there was a celebration going on by looking at the little guy.  Po was just treating this like any other work day. Wake up, pose for photos (no makeup), get a little breakfast, nap, get a little snack, nap, scoot around on the floor a while, and of course get another snack in. It's a rough job, but he's just the right panda for it. Lun Lun wouldn't comment on the name either as she was busy taking care of Po's numerous needs, eating bamboo, and getting a little nap time in for herself. On the keeper side of things, it sure is going be nice to call him something other than "the cub".
Kenn Harwood
Lead Keeper of Carnivores

Tuesday, February 15
From today's 100 Day Celebration.

Jack Black reveals the cub's name to be Po!
Previous Start Over Next

 

Monday, February 14
Since October of last year I have been one of the keepers working overnight. First, I was here to watch Lun Lun for signs of an imminent birth (which I did happen to be here for!). Once the cub was born, my job was to ensure that Lun Lun and the cub were healthy and thriving. Even though Lun Lun is an experienced and excellent mother, panda cubs are so small and time-consuming in the first few months of life, that continuous monitoring is important to guarantee their well-being. I have taken copious amounts of notes about Lun Lun’s and the cub’s behaviors and made certain that Lun Lun had everything she needed so she could concentrate on caring for her cub. This is the second time I have been a nursery keeper; I did the same thing when Xi Lan was born.  It is an exciting time and I enjoy every minute of it! Now that the cub is older, and he and Lun Lun are doing so well, they no longer require our constant care. This week, I will resume my normal duties as a primary panda keeper, caring for all four of Zoo Atlanta’s pandas. I will miss my nights with Lun Lun and the cub, but I will still be caring for them everyday and I look forward to spending time with Yang Yang and Xi Lan again.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Friday, February 11
Yesterday was my first opportunity to see the (soon to be named) cub receive his weekly checkup.  He is not afraid to voice his opinion about being handled.  Luckily for him, the exam does not take long and he is quickly returned to Lun Lun.

I went back and found the closest stats of Mei Lan and Xi Lan for comparison. Please remember there is some wiggle room, as the cubs do not sit very still during the measuring process.

  New cub (98 days) Xi Lan (96 days) Mei Lan (99 days)
Weight 4.96 kg 5.02 kg 5.44 kg
Total body length 53 cm 58.5 cm 45 cm
Tail length 6.5 cm 6.5 cm 6 cm
Neck girth 30 cm 29 cm 33 cm
Chest girth 43 cm 43.5 cm 47 cm
Belly girth 45 cm 49 cm 51 cm
Nose pad width 4.3 cm 4.5 cm 4 cm

Dr. Sam Rivera also noted that four teeth have erupted!
Kate Roca
Carnivore Keeper III

Wednesday, February 9
You may have noticed that the pandas are munching on a new type of bamboo the past week or two. Their current diet now includes Arundinaria gigantea, commonly known as river cane. This particular species of bamboo is native to the southeastern United States and can grow as tall as 33 feet! The bears have had this bamboo in the past but they like it best during the cold months. So they are enjoying it now. All three bears destroy this species overnight to the point that there are very few whole pieces to pick up. Hopefully, it will stay cold a little longer, so that they can continue enjoying river cane for a few more weeks!
Kris Gelhardt
Seasonal Keeper

Friday, February 4
The cub had his exam yesterday and he weighed 4.55 kg. He’s been working hard lately at getting all four of his paws underneath him so that he can stand up. He took some time during his most recent exam to practice. He’s not stable, but he is making good progress on this goal and will soon be an accomplished walker. During the exam, vet staff noted small bumps along his gums, which means his teeth will likely erupt very soon. 
Megan Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, February 2
Yesterday while I was collecting behavioral data on Lun Lun and her cub, I saw a few moments of play-fighting. Play-fighting is the most common type of play exhibited by young giant pandas, and it has been an interest of mine for many years. Play-fighting is what it sounds like – play behavior that resembles fighting. In giant pandas, this takes the form of wrestling, biting, paw swatting, and chasing. It’s also sometimes referred to as rough and tumble play. You have probably seen dogs, cats, or even children (usually boys) engage in this kind of play. The boys comment isn’t a joke. Play-fighting is more common in young males of some species than it is in young females. This is true for humans and giant pandas. Lun Lun’s new cub is a male. So, I am not surprised to see the early development of play-fighting in him. And I look forward to seeing a lot more of it in the coming months. Play, especially between mother and offspring, is my favorite behavior to watch. I think most people feel the same. Get ready. We have a lot of enjoyable play watching to come! 
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Monday, January 31
Over the weekend we finally had the chance to give Lun Lun the opportunity to get some fresh air. The temperature rose above normal, to be in the 60s, so I thought that it would be a great time to open up the porch. One of the dens next to the nestbox area has an enclosed porch area, that we sometimes have the ability to give the pandas overnight during certain times of the year. Being that neither boy has access near this area right now, Lun has the ability to have access to it during the daytime. If the temperatures continue to be at least in the 50s, this change can continue. I am not sure how much she has enjoyed it though, as over the two days I never saw her actually go outside. She has looked out the door, and sat in the doorway to eat, but never took the steps out. Lun has also not taken the cub over into this den while the door is open, so he has yet to see or feel the sun, though I expect that the fresh air blowing into the building is doing good things for his little lungs. 
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, January 28
The cub had his usual vet exam yesterday. He is growing and looks great. His weight was 3.71 kg. His other measurements were: tip of nose to tail base 54 cm, neck girth 34 cm, chest girth 45 cm, and tail length 7 cm. Last night Lun Lun took him out of the nest box and into one of the adjacent dens. She and the cub slept there most of the night. This morning he was still there curled up in the remains of her bamboo. As expected, he is becoming more comfortable outside of the nest box, which is good, because soon he will be out and about with his mother.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Wednesday, January 26
When I arrived for my shift on Tuesday evening, I got a surprise. As usual, I turned on the cameras in the nest box den to find Lun Lun and the cub, but I saw no pandas. That was odd. Where were Lun and the cub? Until this time, the cub has always been in the nest box even if Lun Lun was away eating. So, I had to turn on the dimmer lights in the den area to find them (we have an infrared light in the nest box den so we can see them even when the lights are out). I quickly found them curled up together, resting, in an adjacent den. Of course, Lun Lun got up as soon as she heard me in hopes of getting fresh bamboo and biscuits. As soon as she left the cub, he started vocalizing. She sat down to eat, but, seconds later, she rushed back to the cub and picked him up. After he quieted, she left again and tried to eat. The same thing happened. After going back and forth a few times, Lun Lun finally carried the cub back to the nest box. The cub was asleep within minutes. So, Lun Lun was able to eat for as long as she wanted in peace. This cub does not like to be left alone outside of the nest box!  As Kris mentioned, soon Lun Lun may want the cub to spend more time in the other dens as she did with Mei Lan and Xi Lan. It will be interesting to see how he learns to deal with this important step of his development in the coming weeks.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, January 24
Lun Lun and cub were on the move last night. Every 20 mintues for two hours Lun picked up her cub and moved him all around their dens. The cub didn't seem to mind because he didn't make a peep, but Lun just couldn't seem to get comfortable. Around midnight I gave Lun Lun the rest of her overnight bamboo and she finally got comfortable eating. I guess the way to this girl’s heart is through her stomach! She ate for over an hour and half and then slept for the rest of our time together.

It’s normal for giant panda mothers in the wild to relocate their cubs to different dens. Lun’s restless behavior may have been an expression of this. She is still returning this cub to the nest box. Eventually we expect she will choose to park this cub outside of the nest box in an adjacent den. She did that with her previous two cubs. And it won’t be long before this cub will be able to climb out of the nest box on his own.
Kris Gelhardt
Seasonal Keeper

Friday, January 21
The cub had his weekly physical exam yesterday and he now weighs 3.27 kgs. He is getting much more mobile now. He spends much of his time scooting around the nest box. I have seen him get at least two feet underneath himself and propel his body forward; he has yet to put all four feet on the floor at the same time. However, he already has enough muscle strength in his legs and neck to move himself around between all four of Lun Lun’s nipples during a nursing bout. Before long, he will be crawling and then climbing out of the nest box without Lun Lun’s help.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Monday, January 17
I was thinking to myself the other day that I will be able to experience something new with this cub. I will be able to see his development from ages 4-8 months! For Mei Lan and Xi Lan, I was around for their births and later development, but missed the time that they were with starting to walk and climb in the dayroom. Four months after each of them was born, I went to China for four months to collect data for giant panda behavioral studies at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. This time I won’t be going to China; we completed data collection for these studies in 2009. In the past I always relied on Kate, Heather, or Jay to update me on things that were occurring with our cubs or I read the updates when I was able to get an internet connection. This time I will see it first hand. So, I have some excitement to look forward to in a few months. Now I can put a real-time image to things that before I had only heard about.
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, January 14
The cub received his weekly physical exam yesterday as usual. He continues to grow steadily. He now weighs 3.17 kg. His other measurements are: tip of nose to tip of tail: 51 cm.; tail length: 5 cm.; neck girth: 28 cm.; chest girth: 42 cm.; abdominal girth: 42.5 cm.

Later that evening the cub hit somewhat of a new milestone.  Lun Lun took him into the den where we typically place her bamboo (adjacent to the nesting den). She nursed him and when she was finished, she set him down by her feet and ate bamboo. However, the cub was unhappy, either because he is unaccustomed to being surrounded by bamboo or because he was still hungry. He vocalized softly until Lun Lun picked him up and tended to him. Then she put him back down to continue eating. Before long, the cub was vocalizing again and Lun Lun picked him up again. This series of events occurred several times until the cub tired and fell asleep on the floor of this unfamiliar space. This is one the first of many experiences in which the cub will have to learn to be comfortable in a new environment.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Wednesday, January 12
Sunday and Monday the Atlanta area received snow and sleet. Significant accumulation that lasts for more than a day or two is rare in Atlanta and we are coming to grips with the fact that the snow is still here. Because many roads in the metro area are impassable, it has been challenging to ensure that the animal areas are sufficiently staffed and everyone has been working extra hard. But we have enjoyed watching the animals experience the snow. For some of them it is the first time. Others have experienced it before, but not often. The giant panda are built for snow. Their dense, wooly coats and furry paws make them impervious to cold, wet conditions. But no one told Yang Yang that. He will brave the snow briefly, usually if food is involved. However, he clearly prefers to stay dry and relatively warm (the dayroom temperatures have been around 45). Xi Lan is tougher. He enjoys exploring his snow covered enclosure and manages to look comfortable curled up for an outdoor nap. Lun Lun and her new cub will miss the snow this time. Perhaps they will see some later this year or they might have to wait until next year for a snowy adventure.
Rebecca Snyder, PhD
Curator of Mammals

Monday, January 10
The cub had an adventure this afternoon that I don’t think he enjoyed that much. While we were cleaning up after the boys' lunch feeding, Lun Lun took her cub into Den 1. He seemed to be fine with this, as Lun was holding and licking him. So, Amy and I went back to cleaning. After we finished, we cleaned out Lun’s den so that she could have some fresh bamboo. Before she went off to eat, she returned the cub to Den 2, but not the nest box.  She just laid him on the ground in front of it. Initially, the cub just started to wiggle around, trying to get his feet under him. Though he was not fully successful, I did see him get on all four feet for a split second. As he was not making much progress, he started to vocalize, which got louder and louder until Lun showed up.  At first she just sat over him, licking him, which calmed him down (I guess a mother's touch can do that!). Instead of taking him to the nest box, Lun thought about trying out Den 3, though she quickly realized that she would not be able to eat and keep him calm.  So, it was back to Den 2 and the nest box this time. After about a minute, Lun left him to go eat, but he was happy and quiet by then.
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

Friday, January 7
Yesterday the cub had his weekly physical exam. During this week’s exam, the cub received his first vaccine, which apparently, he did not like very much. He vocalized loudly during the exam. Since Lun Lun is such a protective and devoted mother, she became a bit agitated after hearing the cub vocalize. Fortunately, these weekly exams are very brief and Lun Lun and the cub were quickly reunited. Lun Lun licked and nursed the cub right away and both promptly relaxed back into their normal routine. The cub’s latest measurements are: weight: 3.01 kg.; tip of nose to tip of tail: 48 cm.; tail length: 6 cm.; neck girth: 30 cm.; chest girth: 39 cm.; abdominal girth: 43 cm.
Heather Baker Roberts
Carnivore Keeper II

Wednesday, January 5
The other night was very quiet in the panda building. Mom and cub slept most of the night, except for a few late night snacks for Lun Lun. Usually on these late night shifts, I find that Xi Lan likes to sleep in the back of the hallway and barely poke his head out. But that night he was extra playful. Every time I walk by he is ready for some attention. I indulged him with some biscuits and extra attention since Lun and cub were so peaceful.
Kris Gelhardt
Seasonal Keeper

Monday, January 3
This past weekend started off as nice weather, but as the day progressed the rain came in. I had put Xi Lan outside when it was nice, but did not get him back inside before the rains started. He found an area out of the rain to rest, and so he seemed at least semi-comfortable. As the rains got heavier, he just made attempts to curl up into a smaller ball to get away from the "wetness" that was happening. This could have been easier if he went into the cave, but he was trying his luck elsewhere. It all made me think of Mei Lan and how she did not mind the rain. She would just eat or sleep, going about her business. Now, how is the new cub going to react? That is the current question. Who is he going to take after? Xi Lan, Mei or possibly his father who doesn't even like to get his feet wet? Hopefully, it will be like his big sister Mei!
Joseph T. Svoke
Carnivore Keeper III

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