My Visit with Wen Yu – by Suzanne Braden, Director, Pandas International
On my recent trip to China, I was fortunate enough to get to visit with a very special panda named Wen Yu. Wen Yu, born in 2007, was the last panda born to Mao Mao. She is a beautiful, healthy panda, who was enjoying the cool light rain on the day I visited. She sat in her indoor enclosure and looked sweetly at her visitors.
Visiting with Wen Yu brought back a flood of memories of my trip to China in 2008, right after the earthquake. When I learned of the earthquake, I wasn’t sure what I would be able to contribute, but I new I had to be in China to help. When we arrived at the Wolong Panda Center, it was closed to the public and the devastation from the earthquake was evident everywhere we turned.
One area of the base was of particular concern. The earthquake had caused a dam of rocks and debris to form in the river next to Mao Mao’s enclosure. A lake then formed behind that dam. The immense pressure from the water broke the dam and a torrent of water hit the wall of the enclosure with such force that it collapsed. Since Mao Mao was missing, everyone feared that she was under this section of the wall.
Watching the workers remove pieces of the wall, manually with ropes, I remember feeling such dread at what we would see underneath. The chip reader confirmed our worst fears. Mao Mao had been crushed when the wall came down.
Five years later, I still vividly remember Mao Mao’s funeral, held the next morning. Her keeper and I both couldn’t stop crying. I remember telling him that he had to stay strong and take care of her babies!
Mao Mao was survived by three cubs, Wen Yu -2007, Xi Dou 2006 and Wang Wang 2005. Wen Yu is the last of Mao Mao’s cubs and hopefully will have a cub of her own in the next few years to carry on in Mao Mao’s name and spirit.
For the past several years, a group of panda supporters have teamed up to adopt Wen Yu in honor of Mao Mao’s memory and her legacy. This year we want to open her adoption to the global panda community so that anyone that would like to contribute has that opportunity.
So, in remembering the tragic loss of her life and in loving memory of Mao Mao, let me be the first to contribute to her adoption before the end of the year. I hope you will join me by donating $1, $5, $10, or whatever you can afford. Every donation makes a difference and there is no donation too small.