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!