This panda update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.
On behalf of the entire Zoo, we'd like to thank the 7,498 people who traveled far and wide to meet Bei Bei last Saturday! The panda house is now open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Now that Bei Bei is bigger and more active, he's not always inclined to sit still on the scale long enough to get an accurate weight. As of January 11, he weighed about 22 pounds (10 kg).
Even though he's growing quickly, Mei Xiang is not trying to wean Bei Bei yet and will not attempt to wean him for almost another year. He is nursing at least twice a day now. Although at this age he could survive on just once a day. Mei Xiang sometimes ends Bei Bei's nursing sessions, presumably when it becomes uncomfortable for her. The little bear now has a lot of teeth!
He tasted his first leaves of bamboo last Friday, but it will be several months still before he is eating an appreciable amount of bamboo. It is also difficult to say whether or not he is instinctively eating bamboo, or if it is the result of observational learning by watching his mother.
It is probably a little bit of both. There are so many things that still need to be studied about giant pandas so there are plenty of opportunities for the next generation of budding conservationists to explore! Bamboo isn't the only thing Bei Bei has tasted lately. Keepers offered him his first taste of sweet potato on Tuesday, and he really enjoyed it!
Bei Bei will be going outside in the very near future. We will soon give him the choice to venture out in the mornings with Mei Xiang if the temperature is above freezing with no precipitation.
Keepers will essentially do the same cub-proofing as when Bao Bao and Tai Shan first went outside, but will collar different trees. We placed climbing structures outside that are lower than the trees so Bei Bei can perfect his climbing skills before we take the collars off the trees and the cub ventures higher into the treetops.
Bei Bei experienced snow for the first time today! While Mei Xiang was in her larger yard eating, they let Bei Bei explore a smaller behind-the-scenes outdoor area with a light dusting of snow for a few minutes. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the snow.
We have received many questions from panda fans about flash photography in the panda house. Photo flashes are not harmful to Bei Bei's eyes. Giant pandas have a much more acute sense of hearing than vision.
Bao Bao is doing great! She has been enjoying the cold weather and spends most of her days entirely outside. She has also been receiving some new enrichment items. Her favorite new toy seems to be "looky-lou," a plastic toy with a mirror on one side.
Voting is now open for the Giant Panda Global Awards-and there are some familiar nominees. Cast your
Adopt a Species for Valentine's Day
Is your Valentine smitten by Bei Bei and our precious giant panda family? Then adopt a giant panda for him or her! Your purchase supports our giant panda research, conservation and animal care at the Zoo and in China.
We encourage you to take Metrorail or Metrobus to the National Zoo. Parking is limited, and using public transportation saves natural resources. For more information visit our website: nationalzoo.si.edu