Photo via National Zoo
From the National Zoo’s giant panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle:
“Mei Xiang is now venturing outside for breakfast, and is spending up to two hours away from the cub at a time. As the cub matures that time will increase, and eventually mother and cub will be comfortable spending many hours away from each other. That will also give us more time for training sessions with Mei and for checks on the cub, so cam watchers may notice that the cams may be focused on Mei when she’s away from the cub. We are using Mei’s time outside to do regular cub exams and weigh and measure the cub. Last week, we noticed that the cub is even sleeping through the exams! This makes sense, however, given Mei’s attentive maternal care. She nurses the cub before she goes outside for breakfast, allowing the cub to rest back in the den during her departure. Mei Xiang even took that opportunity to take a nap herself on Thursday, enjoying the cool fall air on her favorite resting spot on top of the grotto in her yard.
Keepers were able to weigh and measure the cub yesterday. She now weighs 7.7 pounds (3.5 kilos) and she’s 23 inches long (59 centimeters). Her right front paw measured in at 2.4 inches long (6 centimeters) and her hind paws at 3 inches (8 centimeters). Her eyes have opened a little more and are now almost fully open.”