Dependable Pandas

Open the door, please!

Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night…

We had some wild weather here in Southern California mid-March. Saturday night, March 17, a blustery storm passed through. Blowing winds, downpours of rain, some hail, and snow in the mountain areas left everything sopping wet and cold. But giant panda female Bai Yun woke up Sunday morning ready to breed. And as always, our trusty male Gao Gao was up to the job.

The exhibits were slick with mud and water, and Bai Yun seemed a little less cooperative than usual. Gao Gao had to convince her to drop her shoulders to the ground to allow him to get the best positioning. Bai Yun weighs 231 pounds (105 kilograms), and Gao Gao is a mere 163 pounds (74 kilos) by comparison, so “convincing” involved a lot of nibbling on her shoulders and pulling at her midsection to get her just right.

Fortunately, he succeeded in his endeavors, and at 8:04 Sunday morning, we had our first copulation of 2012. Even with challenging weather, Gao Gao proved that stormy conditions will not stay him from the swift completion of his appointed duties.

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Getting to Know You, Again.

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