Friday, October 9, 2015

National Zoo's Newborn Named Bei Bei

On September 25, Michelle Obama, the U.S. first lady, and Peng Liyuan, China’s first lady, announced that the newborn giant baby panda would be named Bei Bei, which means precious treasure in Mandarin. The name was picked from a list that was written by officials at the zoo and the Wolong Nature Reserve. Bei Bei is one of two cubs that Mei Xiang, the giant panda, gave birth to on Saturday, August 22. However, the zookeepers noticed that the mom had a hard time taking care of the cubs because the three really depend on the mom for food, warmth, and protection.

They decided to remove one of the cubs that she wasn’t close to, and put him in the incubator. The team of experts switch the two babies every two hours so both of them can receive the nurturing they needed for their mother. This may seem very cruel for a baby, but this is common with pandas in the wild. The zookeepers also took the second one and placed it in an incubator, and they tried to take care of it themselves. Sadly, the baby kept getting weaker and it died on Wednesday, August 29.

Although that was a setback, the good news is that Bei Bei, who celebrated his 45 days, is doing extremely well. He grew some baby teeth, opened his eyes, and has grown very fluffy. Bei Bei will be nurtured by Mei Xiang until he's over a year old. Bei Bei will move out of 'home', just like pandas in the wild. When Bei Bei turns five, he will head to the giant panda breeding program at Wolong Nature Reserve in China.

Giant pandas eat bamboo, honey, bananas, oranges, yams, and fish. The pandas only live about 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity, but they are losing their habitats which is killing them off quickly. There are only about 2,000 giant pandas left in the world.

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