Cute Panda Cubs Playing in the Snow

Created: 2013-03-21 02:48 EST

Category: Life

The giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo were treated to a snow day  as they walked out from their bedrooms and into a fresh blanket of snow. Over 15 tons of shaved ice was blown into the pandas exhibit as part of an enrichment surprise for the pandas.

While the other giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo have experienced snow in their exhibits before, it was all about new experiences as the youngest member of the panda family, Xiao Liwu, got to play in the snow for the first time.

The seven-month-old cub walked from his bedroom out onto the snow and was soon playing with Mom in his snowy exhibit. Xiao Liwu, or "Mr. Wu," as keepers call him, climbed all over his mother and playfully wrestled with her, relishing his first snow day.

"Xiao Liwu definitely had fun playing in the snow and mom enjoyed it as well as she was laying on her back when she was making snow pandas," said Jennifer Becerra, San Diego Zoo senior keeper.

"Xiao Liwu was jumping on her and wrestling with her and getting used to being thrown in the snow by momma bear. It was definitely fun to watch, he was climbing in the trees, around the exhibit and exploring it all."

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 Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.

Only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs.