Since 2003, Bai Yun and her consort, Gao Gao, have produced three cubs, making them one of the most reproductively successful panda couples ever in captivity. Their youngest offspring, a chubby female, will be named Monday when she reaches 100 days old, following Chinese tradition.
Their secret? Separation.
For all but two days of the year, Bai Yun (White Cloud) and Gao Gao (Big Big) lead separate lives, gnawing on bamboo and taking long naps in pens far apart, much as wild pandas — naturally solitary creatures — would hide from each other in mountain forests.
But when Bai Yun enters her brief fertile periods, zookeepers make sure Gao Gao is there, sniffing her through a perforated gate zookeepers call the "howdy door" until her chirps and bleats indicate she's ready to get down to business.
Hee hee. "Howdy door."