Getting weighed

During my September 2012 visit (11 Sept – 2 Oct), I was told the pandas in Bifengxia Panda Base get weighed three times a month, 10 days apart, beginning from the 5th of each month, followed by the 15th and then the 25th*.

I’d missed the weigh-in for Fu Wa and Feng Yi on the 15th by a few minutes, so I made sure to be there for the one on the 25th. It would be after lunch, around 1:45 p.m. I think I got there around 1:30 p.m. Their keepers showed up soon after.

Both of them were outdoors but Fu Wa came in as soon as he was called. The keepers had prepared the scale to weigh him first. It was lined with treats to get him to go to the scale. But instead of getting on the scale, he ate the treats while still on the floor with just his two front paws on it. When he did get on, his eating made the scale move ever so slightly and caused the reading to fluctuate. But the keepers were eventually able to get a proper reading of his weight.

Fu Wa on the scale, weighing in at 118.8 kg (261.9 lbs) on 25 September 2012

As for Feng Yi, not only was she still outside in her yard, but she was up in the trees … sleeping! After Fu Wa was weighed, the keepers called her a few times and after waiting about five minutes, they went next door to weigh Wu Gang and Ying Ping. I went outside and located her among the trees. It was raining (standard Bifengxia weather) but I had my umbrella with me. So there I stood, umbrella opened in my left hand and camera in my right, looking at her and calling her to come down to get weighed. I saw her move and stretch a few times but still she remained up in the trees.

Feng Yi up in the trees

By the time the keepers returned about 15 minutes later, she had still not come down from the trees. I went into the building and watched the connecting door, willing her to come in. I’d never seen her get weighed before, so I willed very, very hard. And then she showed up at the door and walked in. That made me very happy.

Unlike Fu Wa, Feng Yi didn’t need any treats to entice her to the scale. She got on after coming indoors, took a turn around the scale and got off. It was too quick to get a reading, so the keepers called her to get back on. I tried to help, telling her the same. And she did. This time, with a little help from her keeper, she stayed on long enough for a proper reading.

Feng Yi on the scale, weighing in at 97.6 kg (215.2 lbs) on 25 September 2012

*Volunteers who are there on those dates may also get to see the weigh-ins of the pandas they’re helping to look after.