After the last post, I feel that it may only be appropriate that I do a post about the pandas at Zoo Atlanta!
Well...not so much just the pandas, more about the folks who write about them.
The Zoo has been so with-it since the birth of Mei Lan back in 2006 that they set up a Panda up-date blog-type thing to keep those who are interested in the progression of the new pandas in the know. Many of the keepers of the pandas (the people who train, feed, and watch them) make daily updates about recent happenings and the latest panda news. Some of my favorite updaters are Dr. Rebecca Snyder, who is the Curator of Giant Panda Research and Management, and Kate Roca, a Giant Panda Keeper. Zoo Atlanta is good at creating fancy zoo titles.
I was upsest last week to find that one of my favorite blogs had been updated with one of the silliest posts yet. I'm not too sure what Debbie Forde is responsible for around the Panda Building, but I have to say that post makes her sound like one of the old rambling guests that the zoo sees day-in and day-out. "I am prone to ponderings...."? What does that even mean? Lady, get wtih it! This is a blog, not your personal diary where you can insert all the crazy philosophical talk you want. We're talking pandas here. What'd they eat today? Did the new cub do something especially cute this morning? We don't want to read about your meaningless ponderings. We want to read about pandas!
I'm not sure how they assign particular panda workers to write the blog. I doubt there's a process to what to write about or how to go about it. I do know, however, that blogs are informal, informational, and need to stick to the subject matter. I know that mother-offspring relations do pertain to pandas, but let's get real here: no one visiting this blog wants to hear that crap. We want to hear about Lun Lun's latest feat in mothering and Yang Yang's latest romp in the moat or Mei's longest nap record.
What it boils down to is the idea of KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. If you're submitting something to a journal about pandas, then maybe that type of language is appropriate. If you're updating a blog for the masses about the latest happenings inside the panda den, give us the good stuff.
And so now I will leave you with one of my favorite panda keeper entries. One of the best ones, if I may say. It was done by Jay Pratte, Giant Panda Keeper III when Mei Lan was a cub.
Friday, February 16
Requiem for a Panda Keeper – A Drama in Two Acts
Our Hero: Beleaguered Panda Keeper
The Fickle Fates: Lun Lun and Yang Yang
The Cherubim: Mei Lan
Supporting Cast: Everyone else in the zoo
Open doors, shut off alarm. Check to see if everyone’s OK. Hi Yang, Hi Lun, How’s the baby girl?
Weigh the biscuits, weigh the fruit. Order bamboo, get ready to train.
Move the bears, weigh the bears (she’s grown! she’s grown! she’s 21 pounds now!).
Check the yards, check the hotwire. Drain the pool, scrub it clean.
Check the Dayroom, set it up. What will make our Mei Lan happy and stay put? Toys, toys, toys.
Weigh bamboo, carry it out. Spread it all around, shake it all about.
Toys for the big bears, something new. Change it every day, what to do…
Now the student’s here. Research with Yang Yang. Train him, reward him, then out to play!
Train momma Lun Lun, the little one too. Out you go, now, follow your mom.
What a good little girl she is.
No time to rest, now clean clean clean.
Pick up the bamboo, weight it out.
Pick the splinters and shards out of the mess. Weigh it out.
Pick up the poop. Weigh it out.
Now sweep sweep sweep, then roll out the hose.
Wash it all down, soap and scrub, soap and scrub.
Rinse it away, now it’s squeaky clean. Squeegee dry, and move to the next room.
Take out the trash, check on the bears. Mom’s hungry, dad’s hungry, baby’s in the tub.
Weigh bamboo, give ‘em the grub.
Don’t stop now, there’s research to do. Take the data, record the data, enter the data too.
Record the pandas’ info, each and every day.
Check the bears (pandacam on?), whew, they’re OK.
Watch Mei Lan and mommy play.
Now run around the building, to do the keeper talk.
He’s 300 lbs. She’s a good mommy. No we do not “pet” the cub.
They’re carnivores, they always have toys, yes she loves her tub.
Smooth floors stay clean, they choose where to go, and also what to do.
Thank you for your interest, and coming to the Zoo.
Run back before they all wake up, too late Lun Lun’s at the door.
Where’s my food I’m starving why oh why don’t you feed me more?
Shift the bears, clean the room, now weigh some more bamboo.
New toys, new food, now where’s Mei Lan?
She went off exhibit too…
Now Yang’s awake and making noise, so here we go again.
Once we’re done weigh it out, then another hike to the trash bin.
Check the bears (pandacam on?), YAY they’re happy!
Now to other chores.
Omigod it’s noon, I can take a break.
Fall into chair. Whew. Nap time.
Saturday, February 17
(Note: if you haven't yet read ACT 1 read Friday's update first.)
Get out of chair, re-caffeinate.
Check on pandacam.
They’re all awake and need more food, so off we go again.
Clean and weigh, put more out. Remove the chewed up toy.
Train Yang again: up, ear, eye, shift.
He can be such a good boy.
Move mom around, hope kid goes too. Geez what a mess they made.
Clean fast as you can, then out they go. A little two panda parade.
Weigh it out and down the hill, carrying trash again.
Now check emails, there’s more research?
I’ve got too much to do. Papers to write, updates and more.
Now interviews with CNN too?
ACK! They’re awake again. Always ready to eat.
ACK! Don’t poop in the pool, I just cleaned it out.
It’s 40 degrees, now I’ll freeze my wet feet.
Weigh clean feed, weigh clean feed.
Check Pandacam too. Now where did Mei Lan go?
By herself in the tiny shift hall, playing out of view.
Now we’ll get calls and emails about this, I know.
Your toys are right there, and in with mom too? Why can’t you go out to play?
It’s time to eat for you, you should be nursing anyway.
No time to rest, now set up the dens, to bring the bears inside.
Add food, add toys (pandacam still on?)
Come on in Lun, let’s get a weight. Now where’d your kid go hide?
Now daddy Yang’s turn, he’s ready to go, inside to his favourite place.
Now here’s the cub, off to her corner.
Ignore the toys, ignore the bed, off to her feel-safe space.
Clean the yards. Weigh it out, write all the data numbers down.
Sweep it all clean, check bamboo to order more tomorrow.
Now double check all locks, all bears secure.
No coming in to them wandering around.
Close up panda building. One more trip to the trash.
I’m so tired I think I might die.
Cell phone ringing. Hello? Go out tonight?
Are you nuts? There’s bamboo splinters in my thigh.
An early night, then tomorrow will be
Another day like today. I must be crazy, why do I DO this?
It’s certainly not for the pay.
But then we get to work, and the three pandas there
Are always happy to see us.
How’s my girl? How can you BE so darn cute? Are you a good mom?
And now there’s my big happy guy.
You’re excited to see me? Well I’m here for you.
And then I remember, THAT’S why.
End ACT 2
Giant Panda Keeper III