Once we arrived, we talked with the keepers and waited until the timing was right to take the cub from the den. Food is usually a good distraction for mother Bai Yun, and she is so consumed with her special treat of apple snacks that she doesn’t seem to miss her beloved cub for the few moments they are separated. Panda keeper Jennifer Becerra brought in the swaddled cub, who seemed extra sleepy this morning and was barely even awake for the exam! He quickly got comfortable on the blue blanket that the keepers had laid out for him, and the challenging job of taking measurements began. He weighed 12.1 pounds (5.5 kilograms) and measured 25.9 inches (66 centimeters) long.
The keepers have to work quickly these days to collect the measurements they need, since Xiao Liwu is crawling more and eager to explore the new environment. Anticipating this, the keepers had laid out a variety of distractions for the cub, ranging from a ball, a chew toy, some bamboo leaves, and a piece of apple to smell. The cub nosed at the ball and climbed through the bamboo leaves, but was mostly interested in crawling around and exploring as much as possible. After the Panda Team got the measurements they needed, they let Xiao Liwu crawl around on the carpet so they could monitor his crawling progress. The cub is gaining confidence on his paws and moving quickly, so keepers had to keep a close eye to make sure he didn’t travel too far. They were careful not to keep the cub away from his mother for too long, so once the information that they need was gathered, the growing cub was brought back to his den.
Seeing this panda in person was such a great experience, and I can really understand why the public has fallen completely in love with him. I’m so excited for all of his fans to come see him once he goes on exhibit, most likely some time in January, and for everyone to experience this “little gift” in person like I did.
Ina Saliklis is a junior public relations representative for San Diego Zoo Global.
Visit our Panda Photo Gallery for more images from today’s exam.