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Panda habitat becomes a snow globe at San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The San Diego Zoo's giant panda family received a special snowy surprise early this morning, as more than 16 tons of fresh, powdery snow was blown into their exhibits. Panda mom Bai Yun came out of her den to explore the snow. Her son, 3-year-old Xiao Liwu, had a blast, exploring, sliding in the slush, playing with his new jungle ball, and of course chowing down on delicious bamboo, as animal care staff and panda fans looked on.

The snow was part of an important enrichment surprise for the pandas. Enrichment is significant, as it keeps the animals stimulated and active, allowing them to show their natural behaviors. The snow was made possible by many generous donors who contributed to the Zoo's online Animal Care Wish List. The Wish List is like an online gift registry for animals at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It is updated monthly and can be found at sandiegozoo.org/wishlist.

The San Diego Zoo's giant pandas are on a research loan from the People's Republic of China. As part of this long-term program, the Zoo is also collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in China's Foping Nature Reserve. Only around 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, as the species is threatened by decades of habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs.

Zoo guests can visit mama bear Bai Yun, papa bear Gao Gao and their son, Xiao Liwu, at Panda Trek inside Panda Canyon.

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