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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs