Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You call this a panda blog??

(Much) belated updates from 20008. Tai Shan has been a busy baby panda!

May 2: Bamboo Shoots for Pandas on the Go

Tai Shan had his latest night out yet on Sunday. He went up his sycamore tree at 4:40 p.m. and didn't come down until 10 p.m. Earlier that day, after pestering Mei Xiang to play, he was sent flying off the top of the grotto with one swat from his mother. He landed with a bounce, then proceeded to climb back up to the top. This time he minded his own business.

As the breeding season continues, Tian Tian is very restless on alternate days. After spending one day power walking, he appears to need the next day off to regain his energy. Tian has discovered a high-energy snack sprouting along the fence line: tender bamboo shoots. In the wild, male pandas must really wear themselves out from sparring with other males and, if they are lucky, mating with just one female. Female pandas must avoid the males' advances by retreating into the trees until they are ready to mate. Those ever-present springtime shoots are an abundant source of protein and energy for active pandas on the go.

April 28: Tian Gets a Physical
Tai Shan has been spending more and more of his time asleep in the willow tree. This is the same tree that Mei Xiang likes to play in. We are trying to encourage him to use the water-chilled grotto at the front of the exhibit. As the weather gets hot, Tai Shan may seek out this cool spot with the help of a small piece of icy fruitcicle.

Tian Tian had an annual physical on Wednesday. The primary reason for the procedure was to collect semen to freeze and bank, for potential artificial insemination procedures both here and at other facilities. The samples were disappointing. Perhaps the quality was influenced by the fact that Mei Xiang has not experienced an estrus this year, or perhaps it was due to normal daily variation, and it was just not a good day for sperm. In addition, Tian Tian had a thorough physical that included teeth cleaning, complete radiography and ultrasound of his abdomen and chest, as well as the usual blood draws and measurements. Tian also received his vaccinations for rabies and distemper. The entire procedure went very smoothly. Tian was very sleepy the rest of the day and was given half rations that evening.

April 24: Tai's Tool Use?
Tai Shan weighed in over the weekend at 47 pounds. We have seen him eating grass he pulled up in the yard. Tai sat against the fence and consumed it while resting his back. Pandas have perfected the art of eating and slouching.

Tai Shan has been able to climb over several tree guards in the past few days. At last he has been able to satisfy his desire to explore more trees in his quest for the perfect sleeping space. It was very exciting to see him use a plastic milk crate to climb up into a tree. Could we be documenting the first case of tool use in a giant panda, as well as more evidence of Tai Shan's innate brilliance?! Well, as it turns out, Tai was playing with the crate when it rolled away and down the hill, to rest by chance beside the trunk. No tool use, but lots of fun time.
Tai also recently figured out how to climb down inside a large tree guard and hide out for a while. We would still want to discourage Tai from spending time in the trees with the guards still on them. Dressed with metal sleeves, perhaps they will remain less attractive for a while longer. We want to minimize the damage, as we cannot afford to replace these large trees. Tai has recently spent a few late nights in his well-used sycamore, as well as his old river birch tree, so thankfully they are still his preference, at least for now.

And for our viewing pleasure and distraction (well, except mine...grrrrr!) CP2 has discovered a link to this baby bald eagle cam. After all, it's practically your patriotic duty to watch.


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