This adorable panda cub is winning the hearts of keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute with his chill yet feisty attitude.
They haven’t named it yet, but a DNA swab during his first medical exam confirmed that he was a boy.
“Since panda cubs are teeny, teeny, tiny, all of those parts are teeny, teeny, tiny,” said giant panda keeper Mariel Lally. “He was born with a sex it was just we could not physically see what it was.”
He was born on August 21 at the Washington D.C. facility. Luckily for his mom, it was an easy delivery. He weighed about 4 ounces at birth, but he’s now growing fast into a cute black and white furball.
He’s now 20.14 inches long from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail and measures 18.5 inches around his belly. This tiny cub weighs a mere 9 pounds, but he’s been showing a big attitude.
Lally said that when their vet administered the panda’s distemper vaccine and weighed and measured him, the little guy was cooperative. But when the time to check his mouth for any teeth, the cub just won’t have it and refused to open his mouth!
“He’s definitely got a little bit of an attitude, which is fun for us to see. And we’re really excited to see him kind of grow into that personality,” Lally said.
The zoo staff noticed the cub had a habit of sleeping on his back, which his three older siblings didn’t do.
“He’s a very chill guy. We’re thinking that he’s probably going to be a very relaxed kind of dude,” the keeper said.
And while he’s generally chill, it doesn’t manifest all the time.
“He is very sassy with his mom at times. If she makes too much noise eating or she accidentally bumps into him while he’s sleeping, he is not afraid to use his voice and give her a good scream to say, ‘Hey, lady, you’re being too loud, you are disturbing my sleep.'”
The panda is now crawling using his front paws while dragging the back. Sometimes he moves around by scooting across the floor using his bulging belly and propels himself with his feet. The keepers expect that he would be walking soon.
“He’s getting around pretty quickly,” Lally said. “His back legs are powerful, and his front legs are too. He’s just got to figure out how to get both moving at the same time.”
His mom, Mei Xiang, 22, has had three other offspring before him. She’s also one of the oldest giant panda moms on record.
Like many babies, the cub spends most of his day sleeping and nursing. Mei Xiang often has to wake him up so she could feed him. For several weeks, they were confined in a small enclosed den where she kept her baby warm. She barely ate then.
But now that he has grown fur, he can now better regulate his own temperature. Mei Xiang often leaves him for an hour every day to go outside and have her meals.
The baby usually sleeps when she’s gone, but whenever he wakes up hungry, he would squeal, and the doting momma would immediately come for him. Sometimes, during the day and night, she would pick him up and take him outside so he can have a look around at his surroundings.
The little cub is learning every aspect of how to be a giant panda day by day.
“Sometimes it looks like Mei Xiang is chewing on him a little bit. But it’s her showing him ‘we play with our mouths – we’re bears.'”
The zoo will make an announcement about naming him very soon. He’s bound to make his public debut early next year.
Watch the video below to see how well-behaved this panda cub was during his physical exam.
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