Getting introduced to the media at four months old is something usually reserved for royalty, but that’s exactly what Bei Bei is – the panda prince of cute.
Bei Bei, pronounced “Bay-Bay”, was named by first lady Michelle Obama and China’s first lady, Madame Peng Liyuan, in September.
A panda prepares for his public. Bei Bei is in flawless health, and should follow in the footsteps of his older sister, Bao Bao, who became the darling of the zoo after her birth in 2013, caretakers said.
Millions of panda lovers have watched him grow up on the National Zoo’s panda cam – from birth when he was completely helpless, to where he is today, which is just mostly helpless.
Giant Panda cub Bei Bei is shown to the media by giant panda keeper Juan Rodriguez at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington.
“So we’re really looking for those back legs to gain strength and for him to start moving around on all four legs and to start climbing”, said Brandie Smith, associate director of animal care the Smithsonian National Zoo. “He definitely has a different personality”.
Like Bao Bao and their older sibling Tai Shan, Bei Bei will be handed over to China at age four.
Panda are an endangered species and according to the World Wildlife Fund, “severe threats from humans have left just over 1,800 pandas in the wild”. Mei Xian has proved to have excellent maternal instincts, says the zoo, which hopes for more babies in the years ahead.