Welcome to the Giant Panda Research Station
When Bai Yun and Shi Shi had arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1996, they were welcomed into an exhibit complex designed specifically for their comfort and needs, as well as for the planned conservation research studies: the Giant Panda Research Station. Each panda had its own exhibit area, connected to back temperature-controlled bedroom areas, a sun room, and grassy, outdoor garden rooms by a system of chutes and tunnels, so the pandas could be moved easily to any of the areas—and switch exhibits, giving them the opportunity to explore scents and signals left by the other panda. The station included a large room for a research lab and video monitoring, keeper offices, and a bamboo storage and food prep area. It was a great space for two bears—but with the birth of Hua Mei, plus rapidly expanding research efforts, it soon became clear that more space would be needed.
In 2001, the Giant Panda Research Station was remodeled and expanded to create more spaces for more pandas and to create a better flow for visitors to walk through to see them. In addition, a new building was added next door that provided more space for research facilities, observation rooms, storage for materials and recordings, a classroom space, and meeting rooms. An information booth was set up outside, where panda educators and narrators could answer guest questions and provide educational information. The Giant Panda Research Station was now complete, with all the features that the panda research team had envisioned, especially as studies continued to multiply as more was discovered about the much-loved, black-and-white bears.