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News from the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat

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Giant pandas are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized—but rarest—animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts. As few as 1,600 giant pandas survive in the mountain forests of central China. More than 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world; most of these pandas are in China.

Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are at the National Zoo under a Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement, signed in January 2011, between the Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This extends the Zoo’s giant panda program through 2015. Mei and Tian are the focus of an ambitious research, conservation, and breeding program designed to preserve this endangered species.

Seeing Pandas at the Zoo

Giant panda cub Bao Bao is now on exhibit! Bao Bao is now spending much of her time in the trees of her outdoor exhibit where she can sometimes be difficult to see. Sharp eyes will spot her.

  • The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Please arrive early. Long lines require earlier cut-off times to ensure those waiting can enter the panda house before it closes. If crowds are heavy, the line may close as early as 2 p.m.
  • Flash photography and video are welcome, but please refrain from setting up tripods, or other stationary equipment.

Visitors will be allowed into the panda house on a first-come-first-served basis.

Due to the expected number of visitors to see Bao Bao, Asia Trail will be open to one-way traffic only. Visitors will enter Asia Trail at the sloth bear exhibit, near the Connecticut Avenue pedestrian entrance. Those visiting Bao Bao will be asked to line up outside the giant panda house in front of the panda yards. For the safety of our guests, animals, and staff, visitors will be allowed into the panda house in small groups to avoid overcrowding.

Visitors will enter the panda house from the west entrance, by the red panda exhibit, and exit the east entrance. After leaving the panda house, visitors will exit Asia Trail near Panda Plaza.

Although the panda house will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mei Xiang and Bao Bao may not always be visible during that time. They will have access to the den where Bao Bao has spent much of the past few months and may choose to spend time in there instead of on exhibit.

 

April 1

It was an exciting day at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat! Bao Bao made her first excursion outside with Mei Xiang. Keepers said at first she was a little hesitant, but after a little reassurance from mom she wandered into the outdoor yard.

Once outside Bao Bao was busy exploring, but she never strayed far from Mei Xiang's side. While Mei munched on bamboo Bao Bao tested out her climbing skills on one of the smaller trees. She even took a cue from Mei and sat down in the grass with a piece of bamboo mimicking her mom eating. After about two hours Bao Bao went back inside and slept for a few hours.

Visitors to the panda habitat may be able to see Bao Bao outside in the morning around 8 a.m. Keepers will give her and Mei Xiang access outside each morning, but it will be Bao Bao's choice to go outside.

You can see photos of Bao Bao's first day outside on the Zoo's Flickr page and a short video on YouTube.

Mei and Bao

Smithsonian's National Zoo

Read previous panda updates.