Panda

Meet Mini Yuan Zi, France's First Giant Panda Cub

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The long-awaited birth of a precious Giant Panda cub at Zoo de Beauval, the first to be born in France, occurred on August 4 under the close scrutiny of zoo staff and their Chinese counterparts.

Now just over one week old, the male cub, affectionately called Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, is gradually gaining weight as his mother, Huan Huan, learns to care for him. Pandas typically receive their official name on their 100th day, following Chinese tradition.

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Eric Bassega 20728229_1708970955794510_4564956712573449980_nPhoto Credit: Eric Baccega (3,6); ZooParc de Beauval (1,2,4,6)

Newborn Giant Pandas are extremely weak and vulnerable, weighing less than a quarter of a pound (120 grams) at birth. For the first week of Mini Yuan Zi’s life, zoo staff supplemented him with bottle feedings. They also placed Mini Yuan Zi in an incubator between feedings to keep him warm because Huan Huan, a first-time mom, was not yet adept at nursing him or holding him. The staff has now discontinued bottle feedings as the cub and Huan Huan have successfully bonded.

Mini Yuan Zi was one of two infants born to Huan Huan. The second baby was very weak and despite the intensive efforts of the staff, did not survive its first day. In the wild, twins are born in about half of all Giant Panda pregnancies, and the mother typically cares only for the strongest infant.

The zoo has been working for years to reach this moment. Huan Huan and Yuan Zi were very young when first introduced in 2014. Female Pandas go into heat only once per year, for just 24 to 48 hours, meaning there is just one opportunity per year for them to mate. Huan Huan did not go into heat in 2015, and no mating occurred in 2016. In 2017, the two adults showed great interest in each other but did not successfully mate. That’s when the zoo team decided to try artificial insemination, and it worked!

Giant Pandas are pregnant for three to four months. Urine analyses, which measure hormone levels, were used to pinpoint the date of Mini Yuan Zi’s birth.

For now, Mini Yuan Zi will remain behind the scenes with his mother. In a few months, zoo visitors will be able to glimpse him in a special viewing area.

Giant Pandas are found only in a few areas in central China – a fraction of their original range – where they feed on bamboo in cool mountain forests. Fewer than 2,000 Giant Pandas live in the wild, and another 400 live in zoos and breeding centers. For many years, Giant Pandas were classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2016, they were downlisted to Vulnerable, a reflection of the intense conservation efforts underway in China. The program to save the Giant Panda is regarded as one of the most intensive, high-profile efforts ever undertaken to save an endangered species.

All Giant Pandas living in zoos belong to China and are merely loaned to the zoo. The young eventually return to China and are introduced into the breeding program.

See more photos of the baby Panda below.

Continue reading "Meet Mini Yuan Zi, France's First Giant Panda Cub" »


Here’s the Latest on Zoo Atlanta’s Panda Twins!

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The only twin Giant Pandas in the U.S. are well on their way to a series of exciting new milestones at Zoo Atlanta. Ya Lun and Xi Lun, who were 8 months old on May 3, are trying new foods, developing their climbing skills, and showing even more evidence of their distinctive personalities as they head into summer.

Although Giant Panda cubs continue to nurse until they are around 18 months old, Ya Lun and Xi Lun have already begun sampling some of the foods offered to their parents, including sweet potatoes and leafeater biscuits (the vitamin and mineral-rich squares which are a staple of the Zoo Atlanta Giant Pandas’ bamboo-heavy diet).

Play wrestling with their mother, and with each other, also tops the daily to-do list for Ya Lun and Xi Lun, who now weigh 38.8 pounds and 33.84 pounds, respectively. The twins are also refining their climbing abilities, which are essential skills for Giant Panda cubs.

Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang and are the second set of twins born at Zoo Atlanta. Ya Lun, the older of the duo by 47 minutes, remains the more adventurous cub. Her sister Xi Lun is more reserved and is less likely to be the first to try new experiences.

Ya Lun and Xi Lun_Zoo Atlanta 2Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta

Giant Pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant investment in wildlife conservation. 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, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.

In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable.” The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and Giant Pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.

Visitors to Zoo Atlanta can see Ya Lun and Xi Lun and their parents in the Zoo’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center. You can also catch up with the cubs on “PandaCam” hosted by Animal Planet L!VE on www.zooatlanta.org/pandacam .


Atlanta's Giant Panda Twins Enjoy Their First Spring

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Zoo Atlanta’s Giant Panda twins, Ya Lun and Xi Lun, have reached yet another adorable milestone: exploring the great outdoors for the first time. On March 27, lucky visitors got a peek at the duo as they got a taste of their first Georgia spring in an outdoor habitat at Zoo Atlanta’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

Ya Lun was quick to explore her new surroundings, while her sister Xi Lun was more reticent. According to the Zoo, Ya Lun is typically the more daring of the duo, and Xi Lun tends to be more cautious.

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3_Xi Lun_Zoo AtlantaPhoto Credits: Zoo Atlanta

It is not unusual for the cubs, who will be 7 months old on April 3, to be making their first trip into an outdoor space at this age. Giant Pandas are born exceptionally tiny, hairless, blind and entirely dependent. A mother will instinctively keep her offspring in a secluded and protected den area, away from predators and the elements. Lun Lun followed this instinct with Ya Lun and Xi Lun, remaining with the cubs in behind-the-scenes dens until late December, when she began exploring the option of taking the cubs into their dayroom habitat.

Since Ya Lun, Xi Lun and Lun Lun are still becoming comfortable in the outdoor habitat, the Zoo’s Animal Care Team began allowing the three to explore the space for brief times before Zoo opening hours on March 24, but March 27 was the first occasion when Zoo guests got a sneak-peek of the cubs outside. Ya Lun and Xi Lun will continue to check out the space on a gradual basis at limited times during the day, so there is not yet a guarantee of seeing the cubs in the outdoor habitat. However, the cubs have been visible in their dayroom space, full-time, since mid-March.

Born September 3, 2016, Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. Their older brothers and sisters, Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.

Giant Pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant investment in wildlife conservation. 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, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.

In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable.” The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and Giant Pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.


Zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Twins Play All Day

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Six-month-old Giant Panda twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun are old enough to spend the entire day playing in their dayroom at Zoo Atlanta.

Born September 3 to experienced mother Lun Lun, the sisters spend their time playing, exploring, and sometimes wrestling for access to coveted napping spots.

The cubs had previously been spending parts of the day in their sleeping quarters, but reached this new milestone right on schedule.

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Ya Lun and Xi Lun_Zoo Atlanta 2Photo Credit:  Zoo Atlanta

You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named and when they learned to walk. Next up for the only Giant Panda twins in the United States:  playing outdoors.  Zoo staff expect this to occur in the next few weeks. 

At birth, the twins weighed the same as a quarter-pound hamburger patty.  Ya Lun now weighs 22 pounds and her sister Xi Lun weighs 21 pounds.  As adults they will weigh more than 200 pounds.

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, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta. In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from Endangered to Vulnerable. The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and Giant Pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.


Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are now five-months-old!

The popular brother and sister were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7, 2016. In early November, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Panda twins cast online votes for names for the wiggly duo.

The male cub was given the name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half”. The name Fu Feng was given to the female and stands for “phoenix” (which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology).

Currently, the Panda House is the Zoo’s number one attraction. Visitors can’t seem to get enough of the fuzzy siblings, and the most asked question at the facility is: “What is the best time to see the Panda twins?”

The answer is however not simple. “Typical for all kinds of young animals, the little ones don’t yet have a daily rhythm. Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cozy tree hollow, where they can`t be seen,” says zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is very necessary, as Fu Feng and Fu Ban are full of curiosity as they explore their surroundings.

The siblings are now making their first attempts at climbing, playing with balls, and gnawing on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous, or when it’s time to be fed, Yan Yan keeps them in-check and carries them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place.

The zoo is extremely pleased by their development: Fu Ban, the young male currently weighs seven kilos (15.4 lbs.), and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos (20 lbs.), which well above average for this age.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_09Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother's breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo" »


Giant Panda Cubs Learn to Walk

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Giant Panda cubs Ya Lun and Xi Lun are nearly four months old and can now scoot, wobble, and walk across their day room at Zoo Atlanta.

Born September 3, the female cubs are capturing the world’s attention as they become more mobile. Experienced mother Lun Lun is gradually introducing her cubs to new and exciting adventures, including the wide-open spaces of the day room. 

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Panda_cubs2016_161227_dayroom_ZA_5942Photo Credit:  Zoo Atlanta
You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named at their 100-Day Celebration in keeping with an ancient Chinese tradition.  They now weigh nearly 11 pounds, through their woolly fur makes them appear much larger. 

The next milestone for the cubs will be climbing, and they’ve already been testing those skills on logs within the dayroom. 

Giant Pandas’ status was recently downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild.  The population still relies heavily on conservation breeding programs like the one at Zoo Atlanta. 

The twins are the sixth and seventh offspring for Lun Lun and her mate, Yang Yang.  Their five previous cubs now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.

Continue reading "Giant Panda Cubs Learn to Walk " »


Introducing “Lun Lun’s Elegant and Happy Daughters”

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The only Giant Panda twins in the U.S. are now no longer known by the identifying letters A and B. Zoo Atlanta’s female cubs can now be called by their new names: Ya Lun and Xi Lun.

The names were recently revealed at the twins’ 100-Day Naming Celebration on December 12, 2016, at Zoo Atlanta.

The winning names came from among seven sets of names supplied by the Zoo’s conservation partners in Chengdu, China. The names Ya Lun (Cub A) and Xi Lun (Cub B) earned just over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by Panda fans around the world, in the Zoo sponsored contest, from November 21 to December 4.

Ya means “elegant,” and Xi (pronounced shee) means “happy.” Lun (loon) references daughters of Lun Lun. Together, the monikers mean “Lun Lun’s elegant and happy daughters.”

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4_panda_cubs2016_161209_cubb_cuba_ZA_5321Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta

“We’re thrilled to announce two beautiful and meaningful names for two healthy, thriving, 100-day-old Giant Panda cubs. This is a celebration we share with the City of Atlanta, our longtime partners at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, and with our Zoo Atlanta family, which includes friends and fans from around the world,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we celebrate the future of their species together.”

The 100-Day Celebration, which has been followed with all seven Atlanta-born Giant Pandas, is an ancient Chinese tradition that holds that when a child reaches the 100th day of life, he or she has survived the fragility of infancy and may be considered on track for a successful future.

Continue reading "Introducing “Lun Lun’s Elegant and Happy Daughters” " »


Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Un-Officially Named

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In the past few weeks, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Giant Panda twins cast their online votes for names for the popular, wiggly duo.

Almost half of the votes were in favor of the Chinese name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half” and refers to the fact that there are twins. Fu Ban is the name being given to the male cub. Fu Feng, the name given to the female, was chosen by the Zoo. Feng stands for “phoenix”, which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology.

“Ever since our first young Panda was given the name Fu Long, we were keeping Fu Feng in mind for a female offspring,” explains the Zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter.

The Panda twins were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7. They will be officially named on November 23, in a traditional name-giving ceremony. There will also be a big family celebration on November 27.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_31Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc/ Tiergarten Schönbrunn

 

Aside from their un-official naming, the twins were also recently weighed. Keepers took advantage of Yang Yang being away in the outdoor enclosure. The female offspring tipped the scales at 4.26 kilograms, while the male weighed 3.97 kilograms. Schratter remarked, “This is a fantastic weight. Compared to the other young Pandas born in Schönbrunn, this is exactly average. Fu Long was a little bit lighter at that age, our second offspring Fu Hu and the third one Fu Bao were a bit heavier.”

After the weighing process, the twins were of course returned immediately to their tree hollow in the indoor enclosure. The Zoo will allow Yang Yang and the twins to decide when they will make a public appearance for visitors. Towards the end of the year, they will probably be big enough to climb out of their tree hollow.

Continue reading "Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Un-Officially Named " »


Traditional Birthday for Canada’s First Panda Cubs

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In March 2013, Giant Panda couple, Er Shun and Da Mao, arrived at the Toronto Zoo as part of a Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program. On the morning of October 13, 2015, the Toronto Zoo announced that Er Shun had given birth to the first Giant Panda cubs born in Canada.

The Toronto Zoo recently hosted a First Birthday Celebration for their Giant Panda cubs. The lively pair of cubs, named Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy), were treated to a festive birthday party, including some of the other Toronto Zoo babies (in the form of artwork displays) who brought the cubs gifts which contained traditional Chinese fortunes of "Prosperity", "Happiness", "Wealth" and "Lots of Bamboo". Jia Yueyue was quick to select a gift of "Wealth", whereas Jia Panpan let his tummy lead, and he selected a gift of "Lots of Bamboo".2_14589715_1119730518063392_7125892738233464681_o

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4_14711613_1119730571396720_8510048094860094170_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

Media, Zoo staff, VIPs including Mr. Zheng Guangda, Vice President & Secretary General and Ms. Zeying Yu, Vice General Secretary, Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) were on hand to help celebrate this milestone for Canada's only Giant Panda cubs.

"The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to be hosting this one-year birthday celebration for our Giant Panda cubs," said John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo. "We are grateful to all of the partners who continue to support the ongoing success of our Giant Panda program, including the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas, Chongqing Zoo, State Forestry Administration of China and the Canadian Embassy in Beijing."  

Toronto Zoo Keepers have had the unique opportunity to experience the growth and development of these rare cubs over the past year, and there have been a number of challenges, balanced with a number of joyous moments, that have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the dedicated and professional staff having the pleasure to work with the Giant Pandas. Karyn Tunwell, Senior Panda Keeper, has been with the cubs from their first day, and said, "Watching them grow and surpass the many milestones throughout their first year has been unlike anything else I have experienced in my career."

Continue reading "Traditional Birthday for Canada’s First Panda Cubs " »


UPDATE: Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Keeping Mom Busy

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are 18 days old and keepers report they are developing splendidly.

Mother Yang Yang is confident and relaxed in her care of the two young ones. Staff daily observes her (via a den camera) suckling them, cleaning them and keeping them warm. The babies also get more and more active every day. “The young Pandas stretch, wave their little paws in the air, and make first tentative efforts to crawl on their mother’s tummy,” explains the zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. Their pink tinge is also increasingly being replaced by black and white fur, resulting in their looking more like miniature Pandas every day.

The next big step in the development of the Panda twins is the formation of their auditory senses, which takes place at about five weeks of age. On top of this, the young animals are still blind and will only open their eyes when they are approximately 40 days old. It will be the end of the year before they can really crawl and leave the breeding box.

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3_Pandazwillinge 22_ AugustPhoto Credits: Schönbrunn Zoo

 

As we previously shared, the Panda mother will rear her babies in their breeding box, behind the scenes, which is out of sight of Schönbrunn Zoo visitors. At about four months old, the young Pandas will make their first excursions to the indoor enclosure, where the visitors will be able to watch them. The Zoo will do its best to keep Panda fans all over the world informed. At regular intervals, videos from the breeding box will be published on Schönbrunn Zoo’s website: https://www.zoovienna.at/ …YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thezoovienna … and other social media pages. There is also a public video screen in the Zoo that allows visitors to peek in on the new family.

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother's breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.