On Scene with Bill Wilson at the Zoo


 Tenzing is name from new Red Panda at SFZoo

San Francisco Zoo is thrilled to announce the name of its newest, and perhaps cutest, resident: Tenzing, after the famed Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who scaled Mount Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. On May 7, at a special ceremony for Guardian-level families, the panda’s name was announced by Zoo Emeritus Board member and Bay Area philanthropist Barry Lipman and his wife Marie. Lipman won the naming rights with a $31,000 bid at the Zoo’s annual fundraising gala, ZooFest, on April 25. “I wanted to help the Zoo in carrying out its goals of conservation and education,” said Lipman. “By choosing Tenzing, I hope to bring about inquiry and interest in the Himalayas, its animals, its people, and the conquest of Mt. Everest.”


Tenzing took one look at the assembled crowd waiting his entrance and decided he wasn’t going out.  After gentle persuasion by his handlers he decided to explore his new surroundings.

Also on hand for the naming and big reveal was Pete Nelson, the star of the Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters. After watching the show in early spring, Fisher Family Children’s Zoo Assistant Curator Eric Krussman invited Nelson and his crew to design and build an exhibit called the Red Panda Treehouse, which they completed and filmed at the Zoo during two days in March. ”I couldn’t believe when I got the call from the San Francisco Zoo,” said Nelson. “It’s not every day I get to build a treehouse for a panda, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for my first four-legged client.”



Tenzing posing for the cameras while climbing to his perch.

The Red Panda Treehouse features special enhancements—like natural wood climbing ladders, a shaded treehouse perch, and plenty of bamboo on which to graze throughout the day—designed to ensure the health and comfort for this species, which is native to the eastern Himalayas and western China. “I’m so happy with the way it turned out,” said Nelson. “I hope he likes it!” The Treehouse Masters show featuring the Zoo is scheduled to air on June 6 for the show’s 1.3 million viewers.


Bamboo the preferred panda snack

Born at the Sacramento Zoo, this 10-month-old male red panda is approximately the size of a raccoon. Visitors are sure to be struck by Tenzing’s extreme cuteness, which is emphasized even more by his outgoing personality, which is unusual for this normally solitary and shy species. “We are thrilled to welcome this charming animal to our Zoo family,” said Tanya Peterson, President and Executive Director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. “We hope that its presence here raises awareness about its vulnerable status as a species and helps our visitors connect with nature.”


Pete Nelson watches Tenzing go from the perch to the treehouse. The verdict? Tenzing approves of his new surroundings.

Zoo Member preview: May 10 from 9:00 – 10:00 am.

Public viewing begins: May 10 at 10:00 am.


Text- by Press Release from SF Zoo, Photos and Captions by Bill Wilson


Comments are closed.