Giant panda Bei Bei makes public debut at National Zoo in DC

Chinese Culture

Giant panda Bei Bei makes public debut at National Zoo in DC

Bei Bei, the giant panda cub born on August 22, 2015, was unveiled to the general public at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. 

After five months of waiting, Washington’s newest panda cub has made his public debut. Thousands waited to catch a glimpse of Bei Bei. He is now an 11 kilogram (24 pounds) feisty bear, getting ready to eat bamboo. CCTV’s Nathan King was among the crowds at the National Zoo.

From early in the morning they lined up. Getting into the Panda mood – Bei Bei’s older sister two year-old Bao Bao warmed up the crowds. Everyone here loves pandas.

And it’s not just the kids. Some people travelled great distances to be here – like “Dab” from South Carolina. “They just so cool – laid back – minding their own business relaxed in life- you know no worries.”

And then the waiting was over- the public for the first time meeting little Bei Bei.

Giant panda Bei Bei makes public debut at National Zoo in DC

But Bei Bei was doing what babies do best and that is sleeping quite unware of the pandemonium going on surrounding his first public viewing. But there will be plenty more opportunities for Washington and the world to see this panda cub grow up.

These aren’t actually the first visitors for Bei Bei was given his name – which means “precious treasure” – by the first ladies of China and the United States, during Chinese President Xi jinping’s state visit in September.
Bei Bei was one of twins. The other did not survive, but his keeper, Marty Dearie, says the little cub is

“He does play quite a bit both with his mother and we are starting to offer him some of the toys we offer the Panda’s – hard plastic type toys- and yeah he’s using his teeth to play with them, his paws. He’s running around a little bit- all the things you’d expect for a cub to start doing.”

Bei Bei is the latest in a long line of panda’s born here. Washington’s National Zoo was first gifted pandas after the U.S. and China moved to re-establish relations back in 1972. It’s hoped Bei Bei will one day travel to China and father cubs to help boost the wild population of the world’s favorite bear.

CCTV’s Nathan King reports on the lines from the National Zoo.

Bei Bei is a male giant panda born by giant panda Mei Xiang. It is the third cub born in the National Zoo after Tai Shan was born in 2005 and Bao Bao in 2013.  

He has his own Twitter feed:  where a lot of panda lovers are posting photos, videos and messages.