11896690185_a3b3051ae9_z
Photo by PoPville flickr user angela n.

From the National Zoo:

“Bao Bao has graduated from a panda cub to a juvenile panda!

In the wild pandas separate from their mothers around 18 months old—exactly Bao Bao’s age. Keepers have been closely following the signs that mother and cub were ready to separate for months. They saw Mei Xiang actively discourage Bao Bao from nursing, and spending more time away from her, which was expected as a female in the wild would be preparing to breed again. As these signs became more pronounced, they prepared for the final transition, and even spent nights in the panda house to make it as smooth as possible. Bao Bao now lives in her own area of the giant panda habitat, eats significantly more bamboo and solid foods (like sweet potato), and is mastering training behaviors just like her parents.

We know that as humans it can be hard to watch a mother and cub separate, but pandas are solitary animals in the wild. In order for Bao Bao to continue to thrive and become an important member of the giant panda population in human care, weaning is a natural and necessary process. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on Bao Bao and Mei Xiang’s progress!”

They grow up so fast!

19284_10153074111442902_2712420926872489123_n

From the Smithsonian National Zoo:

“It looks like Tian Tian had a mini picnic today. But that’s not a snow cone he’s munching on, it’s a piece of sugarcane—a very special treat for our giant pandas.

Giant pandas enjoy cold weather and our bears will choose to spend time outside in it.”

red_panda.png
Photo Credit: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

“Who are Shredder, Clinger, and Slash? 80s hair band? Nope. Rusty the red panda’s 7-month-old cubs! When the trio of brothers were just shy of two months old, keepers stepped in to raise them. Thanks to the efforts of animal care staff, they’re growing and gaining independence! See photos and read more.

Want red pandas to return to the National Zoo? Learn how you can help.”

bao_bao_silver_award
Photo via Smithsonian’s National Zoo

It’s like the Oscars for gianta pandas…

The big news shared by the Zoo over the weekend:

“The giant panda zoo awards were announced yesterday and Bao Bao won silver Panda Personality of 2014, and the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat won bronze Favorite panda enclosure outside of China!”

10550895_10152972225152902_7165045597742801875_n
Photos: Devin Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

“Today was Bao Bao’s first time playing in the snow outside! And she was quite the little snow panda. She spent her morning tumbling down the hill in her yard, climbing and sliding down trees and pouncing on her mom Mei Xiang!

Giant pandas live in mountainous bamboo forests in China, during the winter it can be very cold and snowy.”

10888451_10152972225127902_655143625411796927_n

10892000_10152972225222902_175180719536371092_n

UPDATE – It gets better:

15011754111_9cd3176f68_z
Photo by PoPville flickr user angela n.

From Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

“For everyone wondering about giant panda cub Bao Bao, she chose to spend last night outdoors in a tree. Staff determined that Bao Bao touched a ‘hot wire’ in her yard yesterday afternoon. This is a safe warning system used by Zoos for containment. Her reaction was to climb up a tree where she feels safe. This behavior is predictable. Bao Bao is perfectly fine and like all Zoo animals, she is still learning the boundaries of her habitat. Keepers decided to give Mei access to the outdoor yard overnight and she choose to stay with Bao Bao, a likely scenario for a mother panda to stay with her cub in the wild. A keeper stayed overnight in the panda house just in case they decided to come inside. The staff are adjusting the pandas’ routine today and are confident that Bao Bao will come down when she is ready.”

Bao Bao
Photo: Connor Mallon/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“This update was written by keeper Nicole MacCorkle.

We’ve noticed Mei Xiang and Bao Bao are spending increasing amounts of time apart from each other, and Mei is permitting Bao Bao to nurse less often. Sometimes, they even sleep in separate enclosures, a sign that they are beginning the separation process themselves. By definition, weaning begins once a baby, of any mammal species, is introduced to solid foods and is complete when milk is no longer being consumed. Giant pandas begin to eat solids around 6 months of age. Since July, Bao Bao has been receiving her own daily diet of leaf eater biscuits, apple, carrot and cooked sweet potato, in addition to Mei Xiang’s milk and the bamboo she eats from Mei’s daily diet.

Before July, she was sampling bamboo, produce, biscuits, and even mini fruitsicles. At over 14 months old and nearly 60 pounds, Bao Bao seems much more independent than her older brother Tai Shan did at this age, so we expect the separation to be even easier with her. When Tai Shan was weaned at 19 months of age, Mei Xiang made it clear, through her behavior and vocalizations, that it was time for him to separate. At times, Tai Shan seemed a bit unsure of his new solitary lifestyle, but he transitioned smoothly and quickly, and we expect it to be the same for Bao Bao. Like any giant panda cub, weaning is just another milestone for Bao Bao, and we know she will do just fine!”