Live-Tweeting Exam 17

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This morning was by far one of the coolest moments of my career here at San Diego Zoo Global. No wait, one of the coolest moments OF MY LIFE. After months of fawning over adorable photo after adorable video, I was finally able to meet our little celebrity panda cub in person! And let me tell you, Xiao Liwu lives up to all the hype. I didn’t think it was possible, but he’s even cuter in real life.

So why was I there? To tweet, of course! As the social media guy, that’s what I do best, and boy did I tweet. This morning was our first ever up-close live tweeting of a panda cub exam, and I’m proud to have been part of it. In case you missed my tweets, I’ll give you a play by play.

When I first arrived at the exam room, our brilliant photographer Ken Bohn and equally brilliant videographer Maria Bernal-Silva were all suited up and ready for the cub to arrive. I was hanging in one corner of the room along with panda staff, and there was a bit of an anxious vibe as we waited for the exam to begin.

When keepers brought Xiao Liwu in, a hush fell over the room, which was soon replaced by giggles and squeals as Liwu squirmed all around. He was a little wet and muddy from the rain, as was expected, but he was bigger and more vigorous than ever.

Some bamboo leaves and a little tree log were placed on the exam room floor for Liwu to play with, but he showed little interest. He kept trying to crawl to other areas of the exam room, but he did stop for a second to mouth some bamboo that was offered to him.

Believe it or not, in between all the swooning some real science actually occurs. The Panda Team performs all kinds of physical diagnostics to ensure our little man is thriving. During some measurements, Xiao decided to entertain us with a panda “headstand.”

The exam was over before I knew it. It ended so fast, and it was such an unreal experience, that it’s almost like it didn’t even happen—like I dreamed it. But it happened, and I’m incredibly honored to have experienced it.

It was not only a pleasure to be around Mr. Adorable himself but to experience the inner workings of our panda conservation program firsthand and to be a brief part of the incredible conservation work that our team does. I am forever in awe of our Panda Team’s passion and dedication to saving this endangered species.

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global.

Note: Xiao Liwu weighed 14 pounds (6.4 kilograms) this morning and measured 27.5 inches (70 centimeters) long.

Click on image to enlarge.