The Memphis Zoo has been home to Ya Ya and Le Le for almost 20 years. When they arrived in 2003, Le Le was 5 years old and Ya Ya was 3 years old. They both have very unique personalities that have developed over the years!
Both of our pandas, as well as all the other animals under our care, are under constant supervision of our veterinary staff, expert animal care team, and research team. In regards to the growing concern for Ya Ya’s appearance, Director of Animal Programs, Courtney Janney, says that “she looks a little bit different than what you would consider your stereotypic, very robust giant panda. She’s always been a smaller framed, petite bear who carries her weight a little differently.” Both Janney and Dr. Felicia Knightly, the Memphis Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian, say Ya Ya looks perfectly “normal Ya Ya” considering her age and size. We have monitored and evaluated Ya Ya for the last eighteen years and she is following the exact cycling and weight pattern she always does. Ya Ya is currently in a horomonal season where she spends nearly 23 hours a day sleeping, which means she’s not consuming as much food because she doesn’t need the extra energy. However, as we move out of summer Ya Ya will wake up and starting eating more – like she always does!
The Memphis Zoo giant pandas are on loan from China on 10-year contracts. Ya Ya and Le Le came to Memphis in 2003 with a renewed contract in 2013. In 2023, the two giant pandas will have been with us for 20 years. We have an excellent relationship with our partners in China and we are in consistent communication with them regarding the health and well-being of Ya Ya and Le Le.
The Memphis Zoo is honored to have the opportunity to have giant pandas in our care and specifically watch Ya Ya and Le Le grow up. Many zoo guests remember when they arrived and have grown up with the pandas. We hope you all continue to support the Memphis Zoo and our love for our two giant pandas. Trust in the passion and care from our zookeepers and veterinary staff to always prioritize the health and quality of life of our animals.
Article by: Jessica Faulk