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.
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 .