Keepers and veterinarians held their breath as giant panda Bai Yun was in labor on August 21, 1999. Watching on the remote camera, they waited anxiously for the cub’s first loud squawk. When it came, the whole room erupted in a huge sigh of relief, with smiles all around. Hua Mei had arrived!
From first seeing the tiny, squirming cub on a sonogram until witnessing her birth, our panda team was both ecstatic and nervous. Would Bai Yun, a first-time mother, know what to do with her impossibly tiny cub? If the cub needed to be hand raised, could we create just the right milk formula?
After all the excitement surrounding Hua Mei’s birth, what if she didn’t survive?
Our successful (and popular!) panda breeding program at the San Diego Zoo had resulted in Bai Yun successfully raising six cubs since 1999. Numerous studies with our pandas exploring maternal care, cub development, mate choice, geriatric care, and hearing thresholds have benefitted management of bears around the world.
Our researchers work collaboratively with researchers in China to help this iconic species thrive by tracking animals with radio collars, observing them in the wild, and reintroducing bears born in breeding centers into the wild.
People around the world watch our online Panda Cam to see this lovable species that has become the symbol of conservation.