The four-month old giant panda, Bei Bei, just made his media debut at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on December 16. Panda fans across the world could, and still can, watch the baby boy on the “Panda Cam” featured on the zoo’s website until he was strong enough for his official media debut.
The cub was born in August 2015, along with another cub who unfortunately passed away shortly after birth. He weighed roughly four ounces at birth and currently weighs 17.5 pounds. Zoo officials say the cub is healthy and developmentally on track for his public debut. Bei Bei is bigger than both his siblings when they were his age and is said to be gaining a pound each week.
Bei Bei lives in captivity at the zoo with his mother, Mei Xiang, and two-year old sister, Bao Bao. His father, Tian Tian, is also in captivity at the Washington D.C. zoo. There are roughly 1,800 giant pandas in the wild and 350 in captivity. These numbers put pandas on the endangered species list. Bei Bei and Bao Bao are being counted on to reproduce in the future.
Using artificial insemination, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian have produced six cubs with only three surviving and two currently in D.C. The pandas belong to China, meaning that when the cubs turn four, they are sent to China to be part of the breeding program at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. The oldest surviving male cub, Tai Shan, who was born in 2005, is currently in China. Zoo staffers say that Mei Xiang is scheduled to be artificially inseminated again in January of 2017.
Bei Bei is set to make his official public debut on January 16.