Pit and Paule become independent

Panda twins at Zoo Berlin are weaned from their mother.

Over two years ago, the two pandas Pit and Paule were born as a small sensation - the first panda offspring in Germany ever. After the two celebrated their second birthday last August, the next big step for the growing pandas is coming up: Pit and Paule are weaned from their mother.

Panda mothers and their offspring usually part ways after about two to four years. Since Pit and Paule still regularly drink breast milk, weaning has now been brought forward a little. “Pit hasn't put on too much weight lately. Since both of them can take care of themselves independently, they no longer have to rely on their mother's presence, ”explains Dr. Ragnar Kühne, zoological director of the Zoo Berlin. The latter could be due to the anti-epileptic drug that Pit has been receiving since his seizure last spring, which has now been adjusted in dosage. At that time, experts at the Free University of Berlin and at the Charité could not find a cause for the seizure, which is not uncommon for such incidents.

After exchanging ideas with experts from China and Berlin, including from Leibniz-IZW, a reaction to breast milk could be a possible cause of pits and decreased appetite. “It is known that reactions to protein can lead to disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. The so-called microbiome in the intestine adapts to the purely plant-based food. Thus, weaning the mother and offspring - as is usual in nature - makes sense here, ”explains Prof. Dr. Barbara Kohn - Professor of Internal Diseases of Small Pets, Clinic for Small Pets at the Free University of Berlin.

For a careful weaning, the offspring and Meng Meng initially only spent the nights separately, but now they no longer meet during the day either. Meng Meng and the panda twins will alternately share their facilities, at times Meng Meng will probably also withdraw behind the scenes and not be visible to the guests all day. "The new situation means, of course, that Pit and Paule will go their own way in the medium term and will probably move to China in the coming year," explains Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem. A date has not yet been set, however, the Zoo Berlin is already in talks with the Chinese panda experts to prepare the big move of the panda twins to China.

Background

Germany's only giant pandas have been living in Berlin Zoo since summer 2017. On August 31, 2019, panda lady Meng Meng (8) gave birth to two baby pandas (Pit: 186 g and Paule: 136 g). The father Jiao Qing (11) is not involved in the rearing - as is typical for giant pandas. According to the last count of the global population, it is assumed that only around 1,864 adult giant pandas remain in their natural habitat. Therefore, the panda is classified as endangered on the Red List for Endangered Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Berliner Volksbank is the sponsor of the Panda Garden at Zoo Berlin. 

Opening hours

Today, 29. November
9:00 - 16:30
Last admission: 15:30
Opening hours

Feedings & Trainings

  • No public Animal feeding & training sessions are taking place at this time.

Map

Zoo map

Arrival

Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin

Route (Google)