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Panda Watch

The San Diego Zoo’s 20-year-old female giant panda Bai Yun gave birth to her sixth cub this year.
Panda enthusiasts around the world can follow as he develops.

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The San Diego Zoo’s panda exhibit was crawling with visitors Wednesday as the newest cub was introduced to the public.

SAN DIEGO — A little threatening weather didn’t stop the giant panda cub at the San Diego Zoo from going on public exhibition for the first time Thursday.

After cautions from zoo officials that his mother, Bai Yun, might be a little protective at first and limit viewings of Xiao Liwu, the 5-month-old cub playfully explored the public panda enclosure for the entire allotted two hours, Zoo and Safari Park Ambassador Rick Schwartz said.

Xiao Liwu Explores Panda EnclosureThe cub will be on display daily from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in a section of the giant panda exhibit that he recently has been frequenting.

“We expect he’ll probably be out the entire two hours from here on out,” Schwartz said. “Bai Yun is comfortable with the crowds.”

Schwartz estimated that around 400 people visited the panda exhibit during the first display period but warned that it will be much busier this weekend. He suggested that those who want a live glimpse of Xiao Liwu, which translates in English to “Little Gift,” to arrive at or even before the zoo’s 9 a.m. scheduled opening on Saturday and Sunday.

Kerry Hunter arrived at the zoo two hours before the exhibit opened Thursday.

“My mom is visiting from South Africa so I wanted to make sure she got to see the panda,” Hunter said.

“I’ve watched him [online] since he was tiny,” Hunter added. “I watched him every day, I’m a little bit obsessed!”

Xiao Liwu spent most of his two hours in a tree, according to Schwartz, who said he was active at first then, “as pandas do,” fell asleep.

Until now, he’s only been seen on the zoo’s panda webcam and zoo- produced videos.

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling the black-and-white bears back to their native country after they reach age 3.

Only the newest cub and Yun Zi — who turned 3 in August — remain at the San Diego Zoo among Bai Yun’s six offspring.

The local zoo is one of four in the U.S. that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, the zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding.

At the same time, the pandas make for highly popular attractions.

Only about 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming.

The bamboo-eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

The San Diego Zoo’s baby giant panda energetically explores his enclosure during his public debut.

Panda cub to debut

SAN DIEGO — The public is scheduled to get its first live glimpse of giant panda cub Xiao Liwu Thursday after five months of watching him on a webcam or zoo-produced videos.

A section of the exhibit frequented by the 5-month-old bear will be opened to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily. However, zoo officials warn that his mother, Bai Yun, is a little protective, so viewing opportunities might be short or intermittent.

At a preview for the media Wednesday, Xiao Liwu strode outside ahead of Bai Yun for the first time, explored the exhibit, nibbled on some vegetation and even took a bit of a tumble.

“This little panda has taken a little longer than some of our other youngsters to emerge from the den, but now that he is out, he appears to want to spend the majority of his time outside,” said Gaylene Thomas, an animal care supervisor at the zoo.

The name of the cub, the sixth offspring of Bai Yun, translates in English to “Little Gift.”

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling the black-and-white bears back to their native country after they reach age 3. Only the newest cub and Yun Zi, who turned 3 in August, remain at the San Diego Zoo among Bai Yun’s six offspring.

The local zoo is one of four in the U.S. that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, the zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding. At the same time, the pandas make for highly popular attractions.

Only around 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming. The bamboo- eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

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.”

pandaCubSAN DIEGO — The giant panda cub at the San Diego Zoo will go on public display for the first time Thursday, the zoo announced Monday.

Xiao Liwu was born July 29, and since then has been visible to the public only via the zoo’s Panda Cam and on occasional videos produced during his veterinary exams.

The name of the cub, the sixth offspring of Bai Yun, translates in English to “Little Gift.”

Xiao Liwu has only recently started going outside, accompanied by his mother. An outdoor area he has been exploring will be opened for public viewing from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. daily beginning Thursday, according to the zoo.

Zoo officials warned that Bai Yun determines his visibility and viewing opportunities may be short or intermittent.

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling the black-and-white bears back to their native country after they reach age 3. Only the newest cub and Yun Zi, who turned 3 in August, remain at the San Diego Zoo among Bai Yun’s six offspring.

The local zoo is one of four in the U.S. that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, the zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding. At the same time, the pandas make for highly popular attractions.

Only around 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming. The bamboo- eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

SAN DIEGO – The giant panda cub at the San Diego Zoo needs to get a little stronger and learn to follow his mother around before he can go on public display, a veterinarian said Tuesday.   

San Diego Zoo Xiao Liwu, born July 29, has only been visible to the public via the zoo’s online PandaCam and videos occasionally released by the park.

“He needs two things to go on exhibit — the ability to climb, and he’s not quite there yet, and he also has to have the behavior of following his mom out and back into the den,” said Dr. Beth Bicknese, a senior veterinarian for zoo.

“We’re waiting for him to be stronger in climbing and waiting for him to be better at following, and then we’re going to have him out on exhibit,” she said.

Xiao Liwu, which means “Little Gift” in English, weighed 14.5 pounds during his weekly examination Tuesday, and measured 29 inches long from the end of his nose to the tip of his tail.
The cub is developing his motor skills and is getting better at crawling. Zoo officials said he has been seen investigating a small climbing structure in the rooms he shares with his mother, Bai Yun.

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling the black-and-white bears back to their native country after they reach the age of 3. Only the newest cub and Yun Zi, who turned 3 in August, remain at the San Diego Zoo among Bai Yun’s six offspring.

The local zoo is one of four in the U.S. that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, the zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding. At the same time, the pandas make them highly popular attractions.

Only around 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming. The bamboo-eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

SAN DIEGO — Xiao Liwu, the 15-week-old giant panda cub at the San Diego Zoo, has four teeth that broke through his gums, veterinarians said Thursday after the cub’s weekly examination.

The cub, who was given the name that means “Little Gift” on Tuesday, now weighs 10.3 pounds and is 25.1 inches long. He was also becoming more comfortable with animal care staff and crawled into their laps during the exam, according to the zoo.

“He’s very interested in his caretakers, which is a very good sign,” Senior Veterinarian P.K. Robbins said. “He’s very comfortable with them and confident in their company and seeks them out. This really bodes well for the future as far as interactions with him, for behaviors, for training, for any sort of studies we will want to do with him… he seems very cooperative.”

Xaio Liwu was born on July 29 to a female panda named Bai Yun, which means “white cloud,” and a male named Gao Gao, which means “big big.” He is Bai Yun’s sixth cub and her fifth with Gao Gao, zoo officials said.

The zoo’s giant pandas are on a research loan from the People’s Republic of China. As part of the long-term program, the zoo was collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science on studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.

Conservation groups list the giant panda as endangered, and the zoo estimates that only about 1,600 are left in the wild.

SAN DIEGO — The 15-week-old giant panda cub at the San Diego Zoo was named Xiao Liwu, or “Little Gift” in English, in a ceremony Tuesday.

The public weighed in via nearly 35,000 votes on the zoo’s website, choosing Xiao Liwu over five other names that had made the final cut, according to the zoo. Xiao Liwu received 21.8 percent of the vote, according to the zoo.

The cub was born on July 29 to mother Bai Yun, which means “white cloud,” and father Gao Gao, which means “big big.” He is Bai Yun’s sixth cub and her fifth with Gao Gao. The pair mated in March, zoo officials said.

Ron Swaisgood, with the zoo’s giant panda team, said Xiao Liwu was conceived during a violent hailstorm, but has developed a peaceful personality.

“When the veterinarians come to gather him up to do their exams, he’s very cooperative,” Swaisgood said. “He’s a bit on the small side, but he’s very healthy, very strong and vibrant.”

The naming ceremony at the zoo’s Hunte Amphitheater began with a traditional Chinese lion dance and ended with an unveiling of a large poster of Xiao Liwu, with his name captioned on the bottom with English and Chinese lettering.

Qiu Shaofang, the consulate-general of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, was on hand for the ceremony. Calling San Diego “a home away from home” for pandas, he noted that Bai Yun has been relatively prolific in breeding.

“This is a way that shows how comfortably she is enjoying the sunshine of Southern California,” Shaofang said.

Naming a giant panda after it has been alive 100 days is a Chinese tradition observed by zoo officials. Xiao Liwu is 107 days old.

The other finalists, culled from more than 7,000 name suggestions received in September, were:

  • Qi Ji, which means Miracle;
  • Yu Di, which means Raindrop;
  • Da Hai, which means Big Ocean or Big Sea;
  • Yong Er, which means Brave Son; and
  • Shui Long, which means Water Dragon.

Bai Yun was nearly 21 years old when she delivered her newest cub, making her the oldest giant panda known to give birth.

Bai Yun’s other offsprings are Yun Zi, meaning “son of cloud;” Zhen Zhen, or “precious;” Su Lin, or “a little bit of something very cute;” Mei Sheng, or “born in the USA or beautiful life;” and Hua Mei, or “China USA.”

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling the black-and-white bears back to their native country after they reach the age of 3. Only the newest cub and Yun Zi, who turned 3 in August, remain at the San Diego Zoo today.

The local zoo is one of four in the U.S. that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, these zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding. At the same time, the pandas make them highly popular attractions.

Only around 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming. The bamboo- eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

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