Baby panda at San Diego Zoo likes to do ‘rolly-tumbly’ things with new ball
NY Daily News: Panda cub Xiao Liwu had a ball at his most recent checkup. San Diego Zoo panda keepers gave the 20-week-old giant panda a plastic ball to test his coordination and encourage him to have fun with something new.
Xiao Liwu, whose name means “little gift,” was enamored with the green toy and would not let it go during his 18th veterinarian exam earlier this week.
“He was really enjoying hugging it and rolling on it and doing those kinds of ‘rolly-tumbly’ things that panda cubs are so notoriously cute for doing,” said veterinarian Beth Bicknese.
The zookeepers also weighed Xiao Liwu, 14.5 pounds, concluding that, although he is still little, the giant panda in on his way to reaching the size that “giant panda” suggests.
“We’ve got about 12 to 15 measurements that we like to do at every exam, just to check his milestones to check that everything is on target. And some days, when he’s a little wigglier, it’s more challenging,” Bicknese said.
Only two weeks before, Xiao Liwu gained strength in his legs. As Xiao Liwu continues to grow, his mother Bai Yun will take him exploring the zoo’s off-exhibits areas.
Xiao Liwu is not yet prepared for his first appearance in public, but eager panda enthusiasts can keep track of the San Diego panda family’s newest member with its panda cam, a live stream that has documented the cub’s first few months of development in the den.
Xiao Liwu’s family is safe in the San Diego Zoo, but other members of his species are not so lucky. Habitat loss threatens the survival of the species and only 1,600 giant pandas exist in the wild, panda experts believe.
The San Diego Zoo Global works with the People’s Republic of China on conservation programs in China and at the zoo.