Photo: Janice Sveda/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“During a routine medical exam yesterday, Nov. 24, veterinarians at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo discovered that their male clouded leopard had life-threatening tumors. Keepers had noticed that Tai, a 13-and-a-half-year-old male, had been chewing gingerly on the right side of his mouth for the past week and changed his food consumption, which prompted keepers to notify the veterinarian team. A decision was made to perform an oral-health assessment and his annual health checkup simultaneously because anesthetizing animals can pose risks.

During the exam, radiographs revealed that Tai had a large amount of fluid within his chest causing several of his lung lobes to collapse. After removing some of the fluid from his chest, veterinarians found several masses of varying sizes in Tai’s chest. These clinical signs pointed to an aggressive malignant tumor. Because of the seriousness of the tumors, veterinarians elected to humanely euthanize Tai.

Tai was one of the first residents on Asia Trail when it opened in 2006. He and his partner, Mook, the Zoo’s female clouded leopard, lived well together but never had any offspring. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Lorie Shaull

From the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

“Giant pandas, which have been icons and ambassadors for the efforts to save the species in Washington, D.C., since 1972, will continue to live at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo through the end of 2020. The new breeding agreement signed by Zoo Director Dennis Kelly and Li Qingwen, deputy secretary general of the China Wildlife and Conservation Association (CWCA), will take effect Dec. 7, 2015, through Dec. 7, 2020. (more…)

Bei Bei
Via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“When he is being held, Bei Bei also makes a happy grunting sound that indicates he feels secure (although you can’t quite hear it on the cam). Fun fact: panda cubs may look like giant fluffballs, but panda fur is actually very coarse and dense like wool (especially on their backs and rear ends). Cub fur is much softer but Bei Bei is already getting the coarse fur!

ICYMI: Bei Bei will make his public debut on January 16. Mark your calendars! “

via FONZ

From an email:

“Tickets are on sale now for the Smithsonian National Zoo’s first BrewLights, to be held on Thursday, December 3, 2015 from 5 to 9 p.m. BrewLights, hosted by Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), will take place during ZooLights – DC’s brightest holiday celebration. Local favorites such as Brooklyn Brewing and Hellbender Brewing Company will be joined by popular DC restaurants including Smoke and Barrel and Meridian Pint.

Guests will get into the holiday spirit as they stroll through the bright lights of ZooLights and into private BrewLights event areas, including Elephant Community Center, Elephant Outpost, Great Meadow, Great Cats Circle and Picnic Pavilion, enjoying holiday cheers along the way. In addition to sampling great hops, guests will receive a souvenir light-up holiday tumbler, three pours of craft brew, savory samples from local restaurants, and complimentary “Snow Tubing” rides.

Tickets are available now at Tickets are $45 for FONZ members and $55 for non-members. Proceeds for BrewLights benefit animal care and conservation at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and around the world. Now that’s something worth toasting!

This is event is for adults 21 years of age and older. Children of any age will not be permitted into the private event sites. BrewLights will be held rain or shine.”

bei bei
Photo via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Big news from the National Zoo:

“Bei Bei will make his public debut Jan. 16! @FONZNationalZoo member previews will be Jan. 8-15”

From their newsletter:

“Giant panda cub Bei Bei will go on public exhibit for the first time Jan. 16, 2016. In the past three months, he has transformed from a pink hairless cub weighing about 5 ounces to a robust 12.5-pound black-and-white cub capable of crawling and sometimes walking on his own.

The panda team has been monitoring him carefully since his birth Aug. 22. He is larger than both his older siblings Bao Bao and Tai Shan were at the same age. The panda house has been closed since August to give the mother and cub quiet and time to bond. When it reopens, the panda house will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.”

Ed. Note: Damn it, why did I let my Fonz membership lapse?!?!?

bei bei
Photo via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Update: “This morning, Bei Bei weighed 5.35 kilograms, or 11.79 pounds.”

From the National Zoo:

“One small step for panda…one adorably wobbly moment for all of us—‪#‎BeiBei‬’s first steps! Under the watchful eye of mom Mei Xiang, #BeiBei took his first steps on Monday, Nov. 9 around 4:50pm. ‪#‎PandaStory‬ ‪#‎WeSaveSpecies‬

Now that he’s got all four paws under him, Bei Bei will begin to wander around and leave the den on his own to explore the indoor enclosure.”

Bei Bei's First Steps

One small step for panda…one adorably wobbly moment for all of us—#BeiBei’s first steps! Under the watchful eye of mom Mei Xiang, #BeiBei took his first steps on Monday, Nov. 9 around 4:50pm. #PandaStory #WeSaveSpecies Now that he’s got all four paws under him, Bei Bei will begin to wander around and leave the den on his own to explore the indoor enclosure.

Posted by Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

bei bei
via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

This panda update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

When last weighed on Friday October 30, Bei Bei was 9.5 pounds! Since he is growing so rapidly, we know for certain that he is getting enough to eat. However, Bei Bei still occasionally fusses after he nurses. It is possible that Mei Xiang, like many mammal mothers, occasionally ends the nursing session before Bei Bei is ready. That causes him to vocalize, to voice his displeasure.

We’ve also seen Bei Bei get hiccups more than previous cubs, though it isn’t a cause for concern. It is possible that he is suckling with such enthusiasm that he is taking in a lot more air than his older siblings, causing the hiccups. Unlike our moms probably did when we were young, Mei Xiang does not burp Bei Bei. The hiccups usually subside naturally after a short time.

Bei Bei continues to make attempts at crawling and walking. He spends a lot of time scooting around in circles, resting briefly, then resuming his efforts. It sort of looks like he’s swimming in the den. Judging by milestones hit by past cubs, we hope to see Bei Bei taking his first steps by the end of November.

Bao Bao Update

Like brother, like sister… Bao Bao, as her older brother Tai Shan before her, has a bit of a reputation in the panda house for consistently being extremely messy. (Giant pandas can be quite messy eaters.) So it seems like most days when the keepers arrive, Bao Bao has trashed her room. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Ian Livingston

Thanks to a reader for sharing a letter from the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park:

“Beginning January 1, 2016, the Zoo’s hours of operation will be modified so that our gates will open later and close a little earlier.

You’ve heard me state that the safety of the National Zoo’s guests, staff, and animals is my number one priority. We constantly think about safety as well as improvements that will allow our team and vendors to move freely around the park during early morning hours. From animal food deliveries and vet appointments to supply drops and grounds maintenance, this critical early morning work ensures that your Zoo runs smoothly and is prepared for visitors. The new closing hours enable us to protect and safeguard our visitors and animals, especially when it gets dark earlier in fall and winter.

We’ve evaluated the impact of these changes on our neighbors and community. We’re aware that joggers and walkers use the park for recreation, and that commuters use the North Road as a shortcut— although it is not a public road. Knowing that we will frustrate some of our neighbors, changing the Zoo’s open hours was a very difficult decision.I hope that you will appreciate and support my decision knowing that I cannot, and will not, compromise on safety issues. Moreover, this adjustment will enable the Zoo to use our time and resources in the most efficient manner possible.

The change will allow us to open our animal houses one hour earlier, giving our visitors more access to see animals, which is the primary reason people come to your great National Zoo.”

zoo hours

via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“Experienced Mom Mei Xiang Nurtures Bei Bei

This panda update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

Many people have been asking if Mei Xiang is being gentle enough when she moves Bei Bei in and out of the den. Don’t worry, she is!

It is difficult to comprehend how a mother panda’s jaws, which are able to crush a piece of bamboo with ease, can also be extremely gentle when picking up a cub, but they really are. Mei Xiang is a skilled panda mother, and like other panda mothers, she picks up Bei Bei in her mouth, but doesn’t use her teeth. (more…)

no parking

“Dear PoPville,

These handwritten signs popped up on Cathedral the other day, giving residents approx 48 hrs notice that there would be work done on the street 10/20-10/21 and there was a no parking rule in effect (I don’t think the work was done B/C the signs are back with new dates). Is this allowed? It’s not the official DC no parking sign, and it was less than the typical 72 hrs notice.

Wondering if these signs are actually enforceable? Does the zoo get special treatment for this?”

Ed. Note: I know the zoo has it’s own police force and the property is part of the Smithsonian so I’m guessing legit. Anyone know for sure?