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A Healthy, Growing Bei Bei

  • Bei Bei poking his head out of a plastic basket
This update was written by giant panda biologist Laurie Thompson

Bei Bei is a healthy 12.5 pound boy and he's on the move. Although he took his first steps, the rock work provided more traction than the slippery floor, so it will take him a little longer to figure out how to walk on this surface. The other cubs were able to eventually figure it out though so we aren't worried about his progression. When Bei Bei isn't trying to walk, he is often nursing. We aren't monitoring him 24/7 but our best guess is that he nurses 3 to 6 times per day.

Panda cam viewers may hear Bei Bei making many different vocalizations.  Like all babies his vocalizations indicate a need for something. Usually he is either hungry, wants his mom, or is just frustrated that his legs aren't getting him where he wants to go. He also may be indicating that he needs to go to the bathroom. A panda mom stimulates her cub to urinate or defecate by licking them. At about four months of age, Bei Bei will be able to perform these tasks without aid.

When he is being held, Bei Bei also makes a happy grunting sound that indicates he feels secure (although you can't quite hear it on the cam). Fun fact: panda cubs may look like giant fluffballs, but panda fur is actually very coarse and dense like wool (especially on their backs and rear ends). Cub fur is much softer but Bei Bei is already getting the coarse fur!

Lastly, Bei Bei does not recognize his individual keepers yet, however he has started to respond to the sound of human voices. Keepers have noticed the cub orienting himself in the direction of the person speaking to him.

ICYMI: Bei Bei will make his public debut on January 16. Mark your calendars!

The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat has been closed to the public since Aug. 20 to provide quiet. Prior to the cub's debut, you can see Bei Bei on the panda cam, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund.   

Don't forget to follow @smithsonianzoo on Instagram for more photos and videos with the hashtag #PandaStory!

Bao Bao Update

Bao Bao is doing great! With the cooler panda weather she has been choosing to spend most of the day outside in her yard climbing trees, playing, or sleeping on her favorite log. 

We try to give the bears a variety of enrichment each day. Different types of enrichment include: sensory (extracts/spices/tree limbs), cognitive (feeders/burlap bags/training), or food based (fruitsicles/sugar cane/boxes smeared with honey). 

Enrichment also comes in the form of physical habitat changes, such as Bao Bao's indoor log structures, piles of hay, and large tubs for playing. Pandas are bears and can be very destructive so we have to make sure all enrichment is "bear proof." Some softer enrichment items, such as Bao Bao's rubber Jolly Balls, were okay for her when she was younger but if she received them now she would tear them up!