Sunday, September 17, 2017

Still Life with Robin: The Week in Zoo Parenting

Smithsonian National Zoo
by Peggy Robin

In Zoo reproduction last week, we’re down by two. Our panda mom, Mei Xiang, already mother to Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei, seemed by every measure to be expecting a little bundle of panda joy again. But by Thursday the outcome was clear: she was experiencing a “pseudopregnancy.” Apparently this is a common thing among panda moms. You can so excited about the prospect of having a baby, you act like you’re pregnant, you spruce up your den, you’re eating bamboo for two, you do everything to prepare for the new arrival….and then nothing happens. So you carry on just as before. And, like any good baseball team, hope for better luck next year. [The full news of the panda non-pregnancy is here:]

And now to the tigers. Sumatran tigers, in this case. They're among the most endangered species of tiger – only 300-400 left in the wild. But the Zoo has a tiger mom, who apparently is not quite as determined to succeed at pushy parenting as the humans who proudly dub themselves “tiger moms.” In the case of National Zoo mother Damai, we can’t quite say what went wrong. Perhaps she just wasn’t cut out for motherhood. After all, she’s had a very successful solo career as a Zoo star. There was some gossip about medical reasons, but the Zoo veterinarian seems to be respecting the privacy the patient, despite the public's hunger to know. All we really know for sure is the outcome. It just wasn’t working out, so the baby is being sent away. But don’t feel sorry for him. He’s off to a far ritzier, glitzier home at the San Diego Zoo, where he will live with an adoptive family, including a new brother about the same age. They’ll be raised as twins in the California sunshine. Will he come back to visit us from time to time? It’s doubtful he’ll even give us a backward glance!
[Want to see him as an adorable little kitten? Roll the video you find at this link:]

While we may not have a new tiger or panda cub, we are not bereft of Zoo babies. We’ve got the screaming hairy armadillo pups. No, I’m not making that up! Here they are: They are oddly cute, with the emphasis on the “odd.” Be sure to play the video to see them sniffing with their little baby armadillo snouts. True, they're not pandas or tiger cubs, but we'll take what we can get!

You can learn more about these animals and meet an armadillo at next Sunday’s Zoo Fiesta, from 10 AM – 4 PM next Sunday, September 24. And of course, it's all free. (The “Meet an Armadillo” presentation starts at 10:30 AM at the Small Mammal House.) 

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local, usually on Saturdays but occasionally on Sundays.  

No comments:

Post a Comment