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Giant panda Update Mar 23, 2015

This update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

Hopefully Friday morning was the last hurrah for winter 2014-2015. While our pandas enjoy the snowy weather and all the tobogganing opportunities that it can bring, it also makes things more challenging logistically. While long-time National Zoo panda followers recall our first cub, Tai Shan, spending most of his independent days in panda yard 3, we wanted to update it for Bao Bao. However, bad weather has stalled progress on our "Bao Bao proofing" operations many times in recent weeks. We have learned over the last 19 months that she looks for different opportunities for adventure than her parents or her big brother. Even with the weather delays, we expect work to be completed sometime next week. In the meantime, we rotate three bears between two yards on many days. Mei Xiang seems to be much more content now that she is back in "her" part of the panda house, and Bao Bao is certainly making herself at home in enclosure 4. As many parents in our metropolitan area are experiencing with their own children, sometimes Bao Bao can get restless inside, but overall she seems to be making the most of it, and enjoys watching the progress of the work from the runway that leads out to her yard. Bao Bao has located some preferred napping spots in enclosure 4, and will no doubt find some new favorites in her new and improved yard this week! No need to fret about the hemlock tree—after breeding season, we will have the flexibility to rotate all of the pandas through all three of the yards, just as we always have. (But they will continue sharing our two available yards for a little bit longer.) Bao Bao's reunion with her favorite tree will most likely be marked with a nice nap for old time's sake!