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January 11, 2014

Baby Panda Debuts at National Zoo in Washington

by VOA News

The newest star at the National Zoo in Washington has gotten her first taste of the spotlight.

Giant panda cub Bao Bao made her debut Saturday in front of visitors from the zoo's members' club. The zoo is allowing its members exclusive viewing opportunities before the four-and-a-half-month-old bear appears for the first time before the general public next Saturday.

Bao Bao got her name -- Chinese for "precious" or "treasure" -- through an online vote. In keeping with Chinese naming tradition, U.S. zoos typically do not name their pandas until they turn 100 days old.

The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species, and a female born in captivity is rare and a reason for celebration.

Bao Bao's parents are the National Zoo's female panda Mei Xiang and male panda Tian Tian. Her birth on August 23 was broadcast live on the zoo's panda cam.

Only about 1,600 giant pandas are estimated to be living in the wild and some 300 in captivity -- most of them in China.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.