#PandaStory: A Feisty Xiao Qi Ji

This update was written by assistant curator of giant pandas Laurie Thompson.

This week, we saw the sassy side of our almost 4-month-old giant panda cub, Xiao Qi JI. Around 6:30 a.m. Dec. 16, he and his mother, Mei Xiang, were spending time in their den. While Xiao Qi Ji rested on the floor, Mei Xiang rearranged her nest and played with some pieces of bamboo. This went on for several minutes, when suddenly our little cub let out a loud and feisty bark!

Mei Xiang jumped and was a bit startled by her son’s outburst. It seemed that the noise from her rustling, or perhaps the bamboo moving around him, disturbed his sleep. We have heard him vocalize in this manner before. When our giant panda team enters the keeper side of the den to remove the large pieces of bamboo that Mei Xiang brought in overnight, inevitably the leaves rustle. Xiao Qi Ji has no qualms about expressing his displeasure with this noise, but neither did his older siblings Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei when they were this age. After a few minutes of nest building and eating, Mei Xiang picked up Xiao Qi Ji and tended to him.

Later that day, the Washington, D.C. area saw our first wintry weather of the season. Both Tian Tian and Mei Xiang spent some time outside as the snow fell, but neither seemed interested in playing, perhaps because it was only a dusting. While Mei Xiang explored her outdoor habitat, we were able to do a quick checkup on Xiao Qi Ji, who now weighs 14.5 pounds (6.6 kilograms)! His teeth are coming in nicely, too. Thus far, he has 4 canines, some incisors and a few others just starting to erupt.

In the future, if enough snow accumulates we may bring some inside for Xiao Qi Ji to explore. This time around, though, he stayed inside his climate-controlled den, resting peacefully. 

This story appears in the Dec. 18 issue of the Giant Panda Bulletin. Check out the Giant Panda Cam and 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.