Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s – (Washington 6th.Jan.2010): Winter is the season for pandas. They arise early and eager for the great outdoors. The keepers cannot place their bamboo fast enough. Appetites are up to speed and everyone is shredding the bamboo culm, or stalk. It is the time of year when you arrive and the indoor enclosures are completely destroyed by shredded bamboo culm, and there is poop everywhere! Just to make it especially messy, the pandas have also jumped in and out of their pools a few times, so everything is very wet. Pandas are poor processors of bamboo, having the typical short intestinal tract of a carnivore. Seventy-five percent of what they eat passes right on through! Hence their energy-conserving lifestyle of sleeping and eating. And passing out fibrous poop. We found a clip, also. After watching the pandas go wild over the years in our usual six-inch snowfalls, it was interesting to see their reaction to 17 inches, which we got just before Christmas. Apparently, it was over the threshold for play, and the trio chose to mostly hang out by the buildings and fence lines where the keepers had previously shoveled. When they did venture out, with great effort, their low-hung bodies made perfect ploughs through snowy drifts, leaving a trail of deep troughs behind! As the snow melted, playful pandas complied and treated us to their frosted and furry flurry of fun. We are enjoying every moment we have with our pandas. The new year brings with it significant change with Tai Shan moving to China to join the main breeding population. As Tai fulfills his destiny, we nostalgically look back at all the wonderful times we have shared. We also look forward with renewed hope for a successful 2010 breeding season right here in D.C.!
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