Bao Bao
Photo: Connor Mallon/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“This update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

We’ve noticed Mei Xiang and Bao Bao are spending increasing amounts of time apart from each other, and Mei is permitting Bao Bao to nurse less often. Sometimes, they even sleep in separate enclosures, a sign that they are beginning the separation process themselves. By definition, weaning begins once a baby, of any mammal species, is introduced to solid foods and is complete when milk is no longer being consumed. Giant pandas begin to eat solids around 6 months of age. Since July, Bao Bao has been receiving her own daily diet of leaf eater biscuits, apple, carrot and cooked sweet potato, in addition to Mei Xiang’s milk and the bamboo she eats from Mei’s daily diet.

Before July, she was sampling bamboo, produce, biscuits, and even mini fruitsicles. At over 14 months old and nearly 60 pounds, Bao Bao seems much more independent than her older brother Tai Shan did at this age, so we expect the separation to be even easier with her. When Tai Shan was weaned at 19 months of age, Mei Xiang made it clear, through her behavior and vocalizations, that it was time for him to separate. At times, Tai Shan seemed a bit unsure of his new solitary lifestyle, but he transitioned smoothly and quickly, and we expect it to be the same for Bao Bao. Like any giant panda cub, weaning is just another milestone for Bao Bao, and we know she will do just fine!”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user dullshick

From an email:

Night of the Living Zoo is happening on Thursday, October 30th from 6:30pm-10pm. It’s guaranteed to be a night of spooky fun with live music, costume contests, adult elixirs and scary oddities.

“Prepare to witness death defying acts and amazing oddities at the Zoo’s annual Halloween event, Night of the Living Zoo. With live music, a costume contest, performance artists, and glow in the dark lawn games, it’s a wicked night of fun that you won’t want to miss.”

Tickets available here.”

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Photo of Gisela via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“We’re sorry to share that one of our golden lion tamarins, Gisela, was humanely euthanized Monday. She was hospitalized on Saturday for renal failure and liver dysfunction. She had been undergoing treatment for kidney disease for about 8 months. Gisela was born at the Zoo in March 2006 and participated in the golden lion tamarin free-ranging program with her family. At 8.5 years old, Gisela outlived the median life expectancy for golden lion tamarins in the wild, which is 8 years old. Four of Gisela’s younger siblings live at the Small Mammal House. Golden lion tamarins are endangered, but thanks to breeding efforts and a reintroduction program encompassing zoos (including the National Zoo), conservation organizations and the Brazilian government, there are now 3,000 living in the wild in Brazil.”

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Photo: Janice Sveda/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Though still saddened by Shama’s passing these photos of her cubs are making the morning much better.

From the National Zoo:

“All of the red panda cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute this summer are growing! Five cubs–born to Regan, Low Mei and Shama–are being hand-reared by keepers. They are bottle-fed three times a day, and have received their first solid foods. Keepers are offering them bamboo and soaked apple biscuits. So far, the cubs mostly just gnaw on the bamboo and lick the biscuits.

The cubs are becoming more mobile, and keepers are starting to see some play behaviors from them.”

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Photo: Janice Sveda/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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Photo: Janice Sveda/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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Photo: Janice Sveda/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

From the National Zoo:

“The National Zoo and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China celebrated giant panda cub Bao Bao’s first birthday this morning with a Zhuazhou (dra-JO) ceremony. During a traditional Zhuazhou ceremony, symbolic objects are placed in front of a baby. The item that the baby reaches for first foretells something about his or her future. The Zhuazhou for Bao Bao was slightly modified for a panda cub. Three posters with symbols painted on them were placed in Bao Bao’s yard. Each poster had a different image, painted by students from the Sunshine School, affiliated with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and Friends of the National Zoo summer campers. Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo, and Brandie Smith, senior curator of mammals placed small honey treats (a new favorite treat of Bao Bao’s) under the posters. One poster had peaches painted on it; in China peaches are a symbol of longevity. The second poster had bamboo painted on it, representing good health for the panda cub. The final poster had pomegranates painted on it; in China pomegranates are a symbol of fertility. Bao Bao chose the peaches first, which means she will live a long life as an ambassador for panda conservation. She then played with the poster with bamboo painted on it and finally the pomegranate poster. After she had played with all three posters she climbed up her favorite hemlock tree. “

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Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“We are very sad to share that red panda Shama has died at SCBI Front Royal.

Shama lived at the National Zoo on Asia Trail for years, and recently moved out to SCBI Front Royal with her mate Rusty to breed. She gave birth to three cubs earlier this summer, and she was under close observation because it is rare for a red panda to successfully raise three cubs. On Wednesday, August 13, keepers noticed that Shama had developed a neurologic disorder that progressed quickly. Shama was euthanized Saturday, August 16 due to her worsening clinical condition and poor neurological function, which was likely attributed to accumulation of fluid in the brain

Shama’s three cubs are now being hand-reared by experienced staff. Keepers are also hand-rearing a cub born to female Regan. Shama’s three cubs are active and appear to be doing well, but one is considerably smaller than its siblings, and receiving treatment for pneumonia. As a precaution, all three cubs are receiving anti-protozoal treatment. Rusty, who was housed with Shama and the cubs until recently, is also receiving anti-protozoal treatment as a preventative measure. He appears to be doing well.”

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Photo Credit: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

From the National Zoo:

“Born June 16, 2014 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, this little red panda cub is thriving! His mother, Regan, is very genetically valuable to the red panda population in human care, and keepers took every precaution to increase the likelihood of a successful birth. Because Regan has neglected cubs in the past, keepers are hand-rearing the cub and giving him round-the-clock care. According to his keepers, the 7-week-old cub is eating well (4 feedings a day) and growing quickly. He now weighs 785 grams!”