Bei Bei's Growing Up

This update was written by giant panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle.
November 21, 2016

Bei Bei is becoming more and more independent from his mother Mei Xiang every day. It is hard to believe, but the time is rapidly approaching when he will live separately from her. He has a voracious appetite, and relies very little on milk from Mei Xiang. He weighs 90 pounds (the largest of Mei Xiang's three cubs at this age) and gets his own diet of bamboo, biscuits, apples, sweet potatoes and pears.

In the coming weeks, Bei Bei will rely on Mei Xiang even less. The panda team is monitoring them both to help them transition to the next phase of their lives. As in the past, the team will take our cues from Mei Xiang, who is already showing signs of being less accommodating when it comes to nursing. When she indicates that she is ready to live separately from Bei Bei, we will gradually give them more opportunities to spend time in areas apart from each other. The process will begin soon and panda cam viewers will likely see some changes in their routines.

Mei Xiang is an exemplary panda mom, and we can look at Bei's older siblings to see what a great job she does at preparing cubs to live on their own. Tai Shan has been living in China since early 2010, and is thriving. Bao Bao has been living independently from Mei Xiang since early 2015, and will soon begin the next exciting chapter of her life in China. We expect that she will be a confident and competent mother. After all, look what a great example she had in Mei Xiang!

In addition to Mei Xiang's phenomenal care, the giant panda team has worked very hard to broaden Bei Bei's horizons to prepare him for a successful future. For example, by working with a variety of different individual keepers, each with a different personality and slightly different way of approaching the daily routine, he has learned to be more flexible. This empowers him to go into new situations without being stressed or anxious. Once separated from Mei Xiang, keepers will spend more time interacting with Bei Bei one-on-one, in the form of training sessions and giving him extra enrichment. As always, as Bei Bei weans over the next several months the giant panda team will continue to monitor him and Mei Xiang extremely closely.