via Wikimedia Commons
Pandas are animals that are loved worldwide but are an endangered species. There are approximately only 1,864 pandas left in the world. Most of the panda population is found in China, but a few are currently living in the United States. One of the zoos with a panda from China is the Smithsonian National Zoo, a zoo located in Washington D.C.
Recently, a new panda cub was born about three months ago to Mei Xiang, the cub’s mother, and Tian Tian, the father. The gender of the panda cub was revealed using the father’s painting, which had splashes of blue paint on it (hinting that the gender is male). At the age of twenty-two, the mother has given birth to three pandas in the past (Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei). These cubs were transported to China due to the contract agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which is a breeding agreement between the U.S. and China. The contract, lasting until December 2020, states that once the cubs reach four years of age, they will need to be sent to their home country. However, since the contract only lasts until December, the new cub might have a chance to live in the U.S. with its parents at Smithsonian National Zoo.
The newborn is currently healthy and weighed about 3.6 pounds, and measured fourteen inches from head to tail during his last exam. After a month and a half of life, the panda cub stays with his mother in the den and can crawl across the floor. Before, he only crawled to where his paws took him, but now, he can move more swiftly to his intended place. With his crawling skills developing, the cub also has started balancing three legs for short amounts of time. This young cub isn’t far from walking on all four legs!
On Nov. 12, Mei Xiang picked up her son and brought him to a spot in an indoor enclosure. The cub stayed and rested there for an hour, without moving or making a fuss, while the mother ate bamboo leaves nearby. This was a huge milestone for the cub because it showed signs that the cub was getting more used to the outside habitat. Now, Mei Xiang continues to get her cub more accustomed to the outdoor habitat instead of her indoor den.
The cub’s name has not been officially decided yet because the name choosing will be done publicly. Some possible options for the names are Fu Zai (meaning prosperous boy), Xiao Qi Ji (meaning little miracle), Xing Fu (meaning happy and prosperous), and Zai Zai (a traditional nickname for a boy). The voting will be done from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 on the Smithsonian National Zoo’s website. This can be done once per day, and the winning name is scheduled to be announced on Nov. 23. Aside from the names, the new panda cub is gaining more weight and growing into a healthy adult every day, with its mother, father, and zoology doctors to support him. Everyone is at his side to aid him in fitting more comfortably in the outdoor habitat. May he successfully grow into a healthy panda!