Despite the impression I may have given over the past few weeks, and especially over the past few days, I don’t actually seek out situations which are liable to be emotionally difficult, although in retrospect I have to ask myself whether or not the idea of spending the amount of time with my mother necessary to keep her on a diet was not looking for trouble. After the fight with my mother, I had mentioned to my sister that I might not feel up to going to the conference.
Depression is a new issue for me having only been diagnosed with it two years ago, although I’d probably been sliding into it for over a year at that point. During that year I made several stabs at finding help but I feel that therapists weren’t taking me seriously. They kept suggesting that I exercise. Since I was already exercising for over an hour each day that struck me as unhelpful. I really feel that they weren’t listening to me. I had, over the course of a year or two changed, mainly in ways I didn’t like.
Today, I’m much calmer, but I’m still thinking of killing myself. I don’t enjoy my life much and I don’t see anyway out of that situation.
Okay, well, I got off track there, now didn’t I?
One of the problems I’ve been finding in my attempts to recover from depression is that some of the things it might be advisable to do, like getting out and meeting people, are at the same time potentially dangerous things. Really, I thought this conference would be a relatively “safe” situation. After my crisis on Friday night, I decided to blow off the conference and try to salvage the weekend. I was determined to avoid anything that could trigger feelings of worthlessness. I went to the National Zoo to see the baby panda.
Zoos are always a mixed situation for me. I love seeing animals but I’m not really fond of seeing them in cages. How much space do the animals really need to be content? However, pandas are endangered and zoos have breeding programs, so seeing the baby panda that was born in the zoo last fall is not so difficult.
Without further ado…
The baby panda’s name is Bao Bao, which means “treasure” in English.
When we arrived, there was quite a crowd. I exerted an incredible amount of self-control, if I may say so myself, fighting off the urge to push small children aside in my eagerness to see the panda. Little humans are notably lacking in patience and it wasn’t long before I was at the front of the crowd. No children were hurt in the taking of these pictures. The first view was not auspicious since the baby was hidden by the leaves of the tree he was climbing.
The mother, Mei Xiang, comes out from under the tree to get a treat hidden in a paper bag. Ninety percent of a panda’s diet is bamboo, but they enjoy fruit and some tubers. At the zoo they were eating some orange things I thought were carrots, but were probably sweet potatoes.
Mei Xiang is nearly sixteen years old and has had four cubs. The eldest, Tai Shan, is now eight and lives in China. A cub born in 2012 died from insufficient oxygen being delivered to the liver, probably due to undeveloped lungs. In August 2013, on consecutive days, she gave birth to what would have been a pair of twins. The first was Bao Bao and the second cub was still born.
We started walking down to the lower viewing area hoping to get a better view. Mei Xiang wandered away for a few minutes while Bao Bao made another foray into the tree.
Mei Xiang returns to the tree Bao Bao is climbing.
Bao Bao comes down the tree to see her mother. Mei Xiang is just barely visible on the right.
Sitting in the grass under the shade of the tree, Mei Xiang nurses Bao Bao. Pandas will nurse for about a year.
I walked around to the other side of the enclosure to try to get a better picture of the two pandas.
Mei Xiang flopped on her back while Bao Bao continued nursing.
Bao Bao has started eating solid food. The woman standing behind me said, “I just want to see the baby’s face.” That’s exactly what I was thinking.
Bao Bao has been going outside with her mother since the first of April.
Finally, we get a good look at the little girl when she finally sits up and eyes the tree she’s been climbing.
Bao Bao first climbed a tree on April 21. She falls down a lot, but that is common for a baby giant panda.
Young giant pandas stay with their mother for nearly two years.
Climbing trees is one of the giant panda’s primary defenses.
Bao Bao does not always follow her mother in at the end of the day. The caretaker approached with a device that made a clicking sound that’s used to train the pandas.
Bao Bao comes down and the trainer appears to give her a treat.
Here you have a good idea of the cub’s size.
After the bears had all gone inside, I realized that I had entirely ignored Papa Bear, Tian Tian.
Mei Xiang enjoys a frozen fruit treat.
Bao Bao settles down for a nap. It’s shortly before one thirty in the afternoon.
Here they can monitor all the Pandas via camera.