The New Year will bring in some new changes to the panda house! Beginning in early December, the panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat may occasionally close during weekday mornings to allow for the installation of a brand new exhibit! On those mornings, visitors will be able to see Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Bei Bei outside. The pandas spend their mornings outside in their yards, and during the winter sometimes choose to spend the afternoons outside as well. They prefer cold temperatures and winter weather. If the panda house needs to close, it will reopen at 12 p.m., when the pandas have the choice to spend time inside or outside.
The updated exhibit will teach visitors about the ecology, history, reproduction, conservation and care of giant pandas. Through a series of new interactive games and activities, visitors will learn about these unique bears and their natural habitat. Panda-enthusiasts will be able to “navigate” the effects of habitat loss through a hands-on maze; test their knowledge of species that share panda habitat; and see how powerful a panda’s jaws are compared to other animals. New photos and videos will show visitors what a normal day for the pandas and their keepers is like—and how they work together. And the exhibit will chronicle the advances that panda scientists in China and at the Smithsonian have made during the past four decades.
The panda house closure will not impact outdoor habitats and viewing areas. Visitors will be able to see Bei Bei, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian in their outdoor exhibits when the panda house needs to occasionally close for installation. The pandas will receive bamboo and enrichment (toys and treats) in their yards each morning as usual, and if indoor viewing areas need to close they will re-open at 12 p.m. The panda house will be open during regular hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Visitors can also see the pandas 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a week on the Giant Panda Cams. Stay tuned for details about a Panda Housewarming!