#PandaStory: Exploring New Sites

This update was written by giant panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

As we head into spring, giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji is getting the hang of the daily routine at the Panda House. He turns 7 months old on Sunday and recently reached another milestone: on March 18, he tipped the scales at 32 pounds (14.57 kilograms)!

Over the past couple of weeks, he has been exploring more of his outdoor habitat. When the weather is nice and relatively warm, we give the giant pandas access to their yards around 7:30 a.m. Most mornings, Xiao Qi Ji is not far behind his mother, Mei Xiang, when she enters the yard. Unlike his parents, however, on some days he needs a bit of coaxing from keepers to go outside.

As mom walks around looking for bamboo, enrichment and other treats scattered by keepers, Xiao Qi Ji accompanies her. Last Friday, March 12, Mei Xiang took him on a tour of the moat—the area filled with greenery at the front of their habitat.  

That excursion seemed to boost Xiao Qi Ji’s confidence! Now, he explores other areas of the yard daily—even on his own. On Tuesday, March 18, he thoroughly investigated the climbing structure beneath the hammock. Xiao Qi Ji also figured out how to use the logs as a pathway and followed them to the top of the grotto.   

On a typical morning, Xiao Qi Ji spends about an hour and a half playing. All that activity tuckers him out, and our sleepy cub eventually settles in for his morning nap around 9 or 9:30 a.m. If you are trying to catch a glimpse of Xiao Qi Ji while he is active and awake, the best time to tune in to the Giant Panda Cam is between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.

This story appears in the Mar. 19 issue of the Giant Panda Bulletin; read previous cub updates here. Please note that the Zoo is temporarily closed as a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.