Friday, after 5 years of volunteering at the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Research Station, I handed in my keys for the last time. Since 2007, between the Zoo, Park and Institute, I have given approximately 1350 hours of my time. As a research, interpretive and information volunteer I have had a hand in programs that are making a difference in the world of conservation. Whether I was entertaining visitors while teaching them about the Pleistocene epoch, getting to the zoo hours before any visitor to watch the pandas, trying to keep warm at 4am waiting for an elephant to give birth or walking baby flamingos for exercise, I have enjoyed every minute! Being a volunteer has been such a rewarding experience, not only for those memorable moments, but because of the friendships I have gained with people I don’t just admire, but idolize.
The San Diego Zoological Society isn’t going to get rid of me that easy though. Once I am settled in in Texas I will be signing in a few times a month to man the various animal cams available for your internet viewing pleasure. (SDZ Videos) Hundreds of miles won’t keep me from this brilliant organization!
While I was saying my goodbyes on Friday, Megan, a conservation program specialist in the Applied Animal Ecology division, gave me the best news -- Bai Yun was officially pregnant! I say “was” because at 2:10pm today Bai Yun gave birth to her 6th cub. She was only 1 day away from being the oldest panda on record to ever give birth! During my time working at pandas I was around for the birth of two cubs, Zhen Zhen and Yun Zi, and had the pleasure of witnessing the most successful panda mother in the Northern Hemisphere do what she does best. We are so proud of our Bai and I am going to miss her so much. She is such a wonderful mother and such a character. I will definitely be coming back to get a peek at the newest bundle of joy when I am back in San Diego for Christmas.