#PandaStory: Like Mother, Like Son

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

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji put his climbing skills to the test these past two weeks. This once cautious cub has become much more confident in his abilities to maneuver around the outdoor habitat.

On Mar. 21, we were surprised when mother Mei Xiang channeled her inner cub and joined Xiao Qi Ji for a climb on his favorite play structure. He seemed excited to play with her and showed off some of the climbing, hanging and tumbling skills that he has worked to perfect over the past two months. They also went for a fun roll down the hill!

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji sleeps on the floor of his indoor enclosure while mother Mei Xiang eats bamboo.
Xiao Qi Ji has started climbing trees, too, including some evergreens and a ginkgo. In particular, one tree on the left side of the yard has become a new favorite napping spot. He seems to be testing out new sleeping spots inside, too. These days, he spends less time sleeping in his den and more time sleeping on the floor of his indoor habitat.
On March 22, giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji had his first taste of apples and pears!
On March 22, giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji had his first taste of apples and pears!

On Mar. 22, Xiao Qi Ji added two new foods to his repertoire: apples and pears. On the spectrum of non-bamboo foods he has tried so far, these seem to fall below cooked sweet potatoes (inarguably his favorite) but above biscuits, bananas and homemade applesauce. Mei Xiang has a palate for pears, so perhaps his taste for them comes from his mom?

Our growing cub packed on four pounds since his last weigh-in. On Mar. 31, Xiao Qi Ji weighed 36 pounds (16.4 kilograms).

If you have been watching the Giant Panda Cam, you may have noticed that Xiao Qi Ji recently received some new enrichment items: a larger rubber tub in his den as well as a big plastic tub out in the yard. He seems to really enjoy climbing in and out of them. Tune in to see what adventures await him next!

This story appears in the April 2 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.