‘They want for nothing’: Memphis Zoo says giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le are in good health

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:31 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:22 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis Zoo gave a live update on the health of its giant pandas Monday after reportedly receiving many concerning messages regarding the health and well-being of the fuzzy bears.

Memphis Zoo says Ya Ya, a 21-year-old giant panda, is as healthy as can be. Ya Ya has been in the Bluff City since 2003, chomping on bamboo and perusing her enclosure. She is also accompanied by a male panda named Le Le.

Ya Ya is a petite bear that “carries her weight a little differently” than Le Le.

“Her coat is also not as robust as a quote-on-quote normal panda but that is typical Ya Ya,” said Courtney Janney, Memphis Zoo Director of Animal Programs. “We cannot put it out there enough vehemently enough that she is healthy; she just looks a little special.”

Janney says both pandas receive the exact same amount of food.

“We do what’s called behavior-based husbandry -- when the pandas are awake and looking for food we provide it. That means we might provide 20 kilograms of bamboo one day based on their behavior,” she said. “But if they’re awake and looking for food we will feed them throughout the day and feed as many as 40 or 50 kilograms of bamboo. So whatever these pandas want, they get.”

The pandas not only feed on bamboo but also produce and a supplemental biscuit that provides additional vitamins and nutrients. Ya Ya enjoys grapes and Le Le takes a liking to apples.

The zoo says zookeepers are wearing masks and gloves while taking care of the pandas in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re always going to be as cautious as we can because we love the pandas that much,” said Janney.

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