#PandaStory: A New Field Trip Destination

This update was written by giant panda keepers Marty Dearie and Mariel Lally.

Thanks to fans all over the world, our giant panda cub now has a name: Xiao Qi Ji! There’s no denying that 2020 has been a tough year in many respects, but this little guy has been such a source of happiness and positivity for our team and millions of other people, too.

In an exciting new development, Mei Xiang recently took Xiao Qi Ji on a “field trip” to the outdoor patio of their enclosure. From this space, he is able to observe keepers working and peek into Tian Tian’s enclosure. In one instance, Xiao Qi Ji was within Tian Tian’s sightlines, but dad was so focused on whether the keepers had food that we aren’t sure he noticed his son!

The cub can also look out at the yard, but cannot access it from this space. The patio floor is not as smooth as the floors of their indoor enclosure, so his claws and feet get good traction. He has started to get his back legs underneath him and is close to walking. On Tuesday, keepers observed Xiao Qi Ji “catapult” himself forward all on his own! Based on his progress, he could take his first steps in the next week or two!

If you tune in to the Giant Panda Cam at night, keep an eye out for play behavior. Mei Xiang nibbles her son, typically around his face, and Xiao Qi Ji will try to grab or swat at her!

This story appears in the Nov. 25 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.