Making a habitat a home for Adelaide’s giant pandas

Wang Wang and Fu Ni’s presence at Adelaide Zoo is more than an adorable sight for visitors – it’s an exercise in conservation, breeding and research.

Community
5 min read
If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to care for a 12-year-old, 150-kilogram giant panda? How about two of them?

As the team at Adelaide Zoo has discovered, it takes a lot of love (and even more bamboo), some furry companionship and a little help from friends like AGL.

The need to breed

With less than 2,000 giant pandas estimated to be living in the wild, Wang Wang and Fu Ni’s presence at Adelaide Zoo is more than an adorable sight for visitors – it’s an exercise in conservation, breeding and research, designed to preserve this beautiful but vulnerable species.

Worldwide efforts appear to be paying off, with giant panda numbers rising by 17% in the last decade. But breeding pandas in captivity is no mean feat. With an extremely short window of fertility lasting less than two days per year, the race is on every spring to give Fu Ni the best chance of becoming pregnant and welcoming Australia’s first baby panda.

Bear care

In addition to overseeing the intense panda breeding season each year, zookeepers share in birthday celebrations, daily training routines and mealtimes with Wang Wang and Fu Ni. So, it’s only natural that they grow close to Adelaide’s cutest residents.

Panda keeper, Lucy Catt started working with the pair in 2012 and tells us that Wang Wang can be an affectionate sweetheart who loves bubble blowing, while Fu Ni is a playful character who gets her kicks from a good game of chasey – with keepers safe behind the fence, of course!

Home improvement

In the wild, giant pandas call the mountainous forests of central China home. Wet, cool and with bamboo-aplenty, it’s quite a contrast to South Australia. Special steps are taken to keep Wang Wang and Fu Ni in a habitat and lifestyle to which their breed is accustomed. That’s where AGL comes in.

Solar panels installed on the roof of the giant pandas’ enclosure ensure their home is maintained at 18 degrees year-round. Solar power is also used to keep the large, water-chilled rocks that the pandas like to laze on at a cool 12 degrees. Not to mention, solar energy powers their enormous food fridge and high-tech camera surveillance, which is crucial for research.

This well-considered architecture and temperature control have made the facility one of the greenest enclosures in the Southern Hemisphere.

Have you met the Red Panda?

A couple of equally adorable red pandas, Imandari and Ketan, can be seen aloft in the treetops of the Bamboo Forest at Adelaide Zoo. Unlike the giant panda, red pandas are more like raccoons in size and shape with long, bushy tails. They share a similar habitational struggle to the giant panda and love to snack on bamboo.

These cute herbivores also prefer a temperate climate, so they are often seen retreating to their temperature-controlled indoor facilities powered by AGL’s solar panel installation.

Learn more about this playful pair and the work of their committed keepers – and be sure to stop by for a visit next time you’re in Adelaide!