News / USA

Smithsonian Zoo's New Panda Cub Healthy, Active

Giant Panda Cub Update: Smithsonian's National Zoo, Oct. 17, 2013. Photo: Bill Clements, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Giant Panda Cub Update: Smithsonian's National Zoo, Oct. 17, 2013. Photo: Bill Clements, Smithsonian's National Zoo
David Byrd
A baby panda born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is about to pass a milestone - 100 days.  The cub, the star of the zoo's Internet Panda Camera, is about to receive her name.  The cub is the newest addition to the effort to preserve and protect the endangered animals.

On a chilly, overcast November day at Washington’s National Zoo, only a few patrons wandered the brick-colored paths.  Christmas decorations - some of them featuring giant pandas - are in place as the zoo prepares for the holiday season.

One panda has been the center of international attention - a tiny female who still does not have a name.

The cub was born August 23 and more than two million people have watched her grow on the zoo’s “panda cam.”  Though she was pink and hairless and weighed only 136 grams two days after her birth, the cub now has a full coat of fur and is showing her black and white colors to online viewers. She weighs nearly 4.7 kilograms and has begun to crawl across her enclosure.  

Brandie Smith, the curator of the Giant Panda exhibit, says that the cub is helping the public learn the importance of saving these animals.

“Giant Pandas are an endangered species and every single additional panda in the world makes a difference.  So with these animals, one more baby makes a difference," said Smith.

Smith says that zoo staff has been familiarizing the cub with their voices in order to make caring for her easier.

“We have a training language with them so that we can interact and we can do the necessary things we do to keep them healthy and safe," she said.

Although the pandas’ main food is bamboo, animal keeper Nicole MacCorkle explains that right now the cub’s mother Mei Xiang is her only source of nutrition.

“Eventually, when the cub is about six-months-old - so about three months from now - she’ll start sampling some bamboo, but she’ll still be drinking some milk until she is about a year and a half, or even closer to two-years-old," said MacCorkle.

The giant panda cub is also about to receive her name. Since November 5, more than 100,000 people have voted at the Zoo’s website for one of five choices - Bao Bao, which means precious or treasure; Ling Hua, darling or delicate flower; Long Yun, which represents a sign of luck; Mulan, a legendary fifth-century Chinese female warrior; and Zhen Bao, which means treasure or valuable.

The voting closes at 4:59 UTC on November 22.  The cub will officially receive her name at a special ceremony at the zoo on December 1 when she turns 100 days old. The voting website is available in both English and Mandarin.

Leigh Mays takes her 1st grade class to see the baby panda at the National Zoo, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: David Byrd/VOALeigh Mays takes her 1st grade class to see the baby panda at the National Zoo, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: David Byrd/VOA
x
Leigh Mays takes her 1st grade class to see the baby panda at the National Zoo, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: David Byrd/VOA
Leigh Mays takes her 1st grade class to see the baby panda at the National Zoo, Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Photo: David Byrd/VOA
On this morning, teacher Leigh Mays and her first grade class from Washington’s Thompson Elementary School crowd onto the path overlooking the Panda enclosure. Mays says that her students have been learning about animals, especially pandas, as part of their studies.

“We’re doing animal research projects. So it was a perfect time to come and see the zoo, and so yesterday we watched the pandas on the panda cam and picked the name after we talked about what they all meant," said Mays.

One of Mays’ students, an Asian-American boy who identified himself as Calvin, said that he and his classmates voted for Mulan for a specific reason.

“You know I liked the name, because [she’s] a brave woman warrior. It’s like, I really like the name because out in the wild by itself, it has to be brave," said Calvin.

This panda cub will not be out in the wild any time soon. Curator Brandie Smith says the cub will be with its mother for the next several months and will not be seen in public until January.  At the age of four, the cub will be sent back to China to find a mate and have her own cubs.  

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More