Bao Bao is having her 4-year-old birthday cake at the Dujiangyan base of the China Panda Conservation and Research Center.(XINHUA/Yang Di)
By Zou Wenyong, panda keeper at the Dujiangyan base of the China Panda Conservation and Research Center
American-born giant panda Bao Bao has been living in the Dujiangyan base of the China Panda Conservation and Research Center in southwest China's Sichuan since her return from America on Feb.22. Like other giant pandas that were born and raised overseas, Bao Bao has had trouble adjusting to her new surroundings. The Keeper's diary follows Bao Bao's new life in Sichuan.
March 24, 2017 Cloudy Going back in time
Bao Bao is put in the enclosure that used to house her grandfather Pan Pan. A family reunion meant to be, sadly. Pan Pan died just last month when his granddaughter was isolated in quarantine.
When she first arrived, Bao Bao seemed a little bit nervous in her family's old home, walking, gazing and sniffing around. But after 20 minutes, she began to calm, even eating some carrots and bamboo shoots. Now she's settled. It's time for her to meet fans and reporters who had been waiting for her.
Lively young pandas like Bao Bao require the breeder's constant, careful attention. I'm going to have my hands full with this one!
April 6, 2017 Cloudy Adaption to Chinese Intonation and Food
It's been a month, and Bao Bao still isn't over her jet lag, dashing and rolling around at midnight sleeping through the day. Right now her top priority is to get used to the Chinese time zone, Chinese commands and Chinese food.
To help her get familiar with my voice and smell, I feed her chopped carrots, apples and bamboo shoots strip by strip, keeping eye contact with her, talking with her and touching her nose occasionally. I tried giving her some wotou' (steamed bread made from corn and sorghum), but bamboo is still her favorite.
May 3, 2017 Sunny Interaction with Brother Tai Shan
Bao Bao's brother Tai Shan, who was also born in the United States, has been in Chengdu since 2010. He just returned from the Ya'an base, to meet his sister for the first time. Bao Bao hung around for a while, I wonder if she recognized her family's smell?
To encourage Bao Bao's development, we put toys out for her. But her favorite activity seems to be gazing at her reflection in the window. As she gains interest in the toys during the day, I've started to see her body clock return to normal. No more nocturnal panda!
August 23, 2017 Sunny Happy birthday Bao Bao!
Bao Bao turns 4 today!
This is the first time she has celebrated her birthday in her homeland, Sichuan. We have made a bamboo birthday cake for her.
Looking after Bao Bao has been my duty and my pleasure all these months. I've grown pretty attached to her, but I know that releasing pandas to the wild is the ultimate goal for every panda keeper. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, Bao Bao will be able to live in her natural habitat one day.