- Created on Thursday, 04 October 2012 18:26
- Written by Imperial Valley News
San Diego, California - The San Diego Zoo's giant panda cub is getting to see and hear more of the world surrounding him. During today's exam, veterinary staff confirmed that his eyes and ears are fully open.
Researchers do not yet know how well bears at this age can see and hear, but from his increased behavioral response to his environment, it shows that these senses are continuing to develop normally.
His mother may help the cub develop his other senses through tactile stimulation such as cleaning, licking, moving him around the den and taking him into the other areas in her suite of rooms at the Giant Panda Research Station.
"As the cub gets stronger and bigger, Bai Yun's way of handling the cub will change," said Megan Owen, conservation program manager, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. "Because everything Bai Yun does [as a mother] has been perfect, we can say that this is probably the best possible way for a panda mother to handle a cub of this age."
The 9-week-old panda cub weighed 6.6 pounds (2.99 kilograms) on Thursday morning. His chest girth is 13.7 inches (35 centimeters) and his abdomen measures 15.5 inches (39.5 centimeters) around. His growth is on track with other giant pandas born at the San Diego Zoo.
Toward the end of the exam, the cub started showing his ability to vocalize, which is another important milestone in panda development. As he became more audible, the Giant Panda Team concluded the exam quickly, returning him to his mother's care so as not to cause stress to either bear.
The giant panda cub and his mother, Bai Yun, can be viewed on Panda Cam at www.sandiegozoo.org/pandacam 24 hours a day. The San Diego Zoo's giant pandas are on a research loan from China. As part of this long-term program, the Zoo is also collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.
Only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, is working to support science-based conservation of the species.
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global manages the Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Frozen ZooTM and Native Seed Gene Bank, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Centers, San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Facility, Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, and a 800-acre biodiversity reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.