Panda cub ready for public debut

SAN DIEGO– It’s a day animal lovers have been waiting for. Xiao Liwu,  the panda cub born at the San Diego Zoo in July, will make his public debut Thursday.

The 16 lb cub’s name means “little gift” in English and members of the public will get to enjoy him from 9:30AM to 11:30 AM.

Panda cub to debut“It’s a pretty fun process for us as keepers.” Senior Mammal Keeper Jennifer Becerra said. “We get to see him enjoy the exhibit for the first day on his own with his mother Bai Yun.”

Members of the media and zoo volunteers were given a special preview Wednesday morning.

Xiao Liwu and his mother have come outside after spending months in the birthing den.

It took Xiao Liwu longer than Bai Yun’s other cubs to emerge from the den, but now that he’s out animal keepers say it looks like he wants to stay.

Becerra said, “he’s been out for a couple hours here and there learning the exhibit, learning the lay of the land and how to be comfortable in the exhibit.”

Xiao Liwu is the sixth panda born at the San Diego Zoo, making it the most successful breeding program outside of China.

At the age of 21-years-old Xiao Liwu’s mother Bai Yun is the oldest panda known to give birth.

Xiao Liwu already has a huge following online even though the exhibit isn’t open to the public yet.

“I’ve followed him on the webcam since the day he was born,” zoo volunteer Barbara Michels said. “You feel like you know him, but it’s really different when you see him live.”

“I just love him,” Michels added. “I can’t wait to see him grow up.”

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