I know it seems like I am on the baby bear beat lately, but that’s only because I am.
On Wednesday, Bei Bei, a four-month-old giant panda cub, made his debut at the Smithsonian National Zoo, weighing in at 17 and a half pounds and looking like one million bucks, even despite his fraught upbringing.
According to associate director of animal care Dr. Brandie Smith, the cub is a “boisterous little boy... [who] sometimes likes to show us how tough he is by lunging at us.” He will spend a little over a year under the care and supervision of his mom, a fully-grown giant panda named Mei Xiang.
His dad is deadbeat Tian Tian, who “inseminated” Mei Xiang and then left her to raise the kids, including Bei Bei’s unnamed brother who died of pneumonia when they were cubs. He also has an older sister named Bao Bao, who really holds the family together emotionally.
“He’s actually walking a lot sooner than his older sister did,” said panda keeper Juan Rodriguez. “He’s about four or so pounds heavier than his sister was at the same age, so he’s definitely a much larger bear and developing a lot faster than his sister did.”
Rodriguez continued: “When he wakes up he’s fine... at some point he wants to have more food, milk or just wants to be on his own to explore his habitat on his own.”
Bei Bei, meaning “precious treasure,” was named by Michelle Obama and Chinese First Lady Madam Peng Liyuan.
One day, this little bey bey will turn into a 275-pound Bei Bei capable of biting part of your leg off like a carrot. Since all pandas are technically on loan from China, he will also be sent back to the homeland to breed when he is four.
But for now, let’s watch him get weighed:
Contact the author at email@example.com.