Xiao Liwu’s 3rd Birthday is July 29th but we are going to have his big party on August 1st for him, beginning at 9 a.m. (US Pacific Daylight Time), so mark your calendars and set your alarm! We are looking forward to seeing what his ice cake (crafted by our creative Forage Team) looks like this year. We as a team always enjoy this little surprise and the only hint we have had is that it is orange. (You can read about how an ice cake is made here.)
“X marks the spot” when the Forage Team delivers the cake at 8:45 a.m., while we keepers put out all his enrichment. The birthday boy will be able to come aboard his exhibit at 9:15 a.m., right after the Zoo opens so all of his crew and friends can be there to watch him enjoy his cake and “presents.” Mr. Wu has commandeered the cave exhibit, so his fans will have a bigger space to view the celebration. This is also the better exhibit for Panda Cam viewing so all the Panda Fans that cannot be there in person can celebrate with us, too!
Mr. Wu still is our “Little Gift” and amazes us everyday. He is now 149.6 pounds (68 kilograms) and is still small but mighty. He has been going through the destructive phase, testing the limits of every climbing branch and log in his exhibit. So be ready for the fact that there may be times that he falls or gets a new scrape, just like any young boy would. He has many playful bouts of running around and enjoying his enrichment, but he still remains patient during his training sessions. We have taken a little break with his blood pressure readings, as Bai Yun has been having full access to the training crate.
As keepers we look forward to this time to give all our pandas extra enrichment in celebration of this milestone—another year closer to being an adult (which usually is around five years of age). If you are able to come to the celebration in person, please also stop over at our Volunteer table to learn about giant pandas and look at our special artifacts.
We know one day that Mr. Wu will add to the genetic diversity of future giant pandas and maybe even one day his future cubs will be candidates for release into the wild. In this way and so many others he is a “Little Gift” that keeps on giving!
Jennifer Becerra is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Happy Anniversary, Gao Gao.