BEI BEI

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You guys. I got the lucky straw at work today. I GOT TO SEE BEI BEI THE BABY PANDA!

Sorry for the caps. But this story deserves that kind of respect. This bear, this baby bear, is so cute I just can’t handle it.

The giant panda cub Bei Bei made his media debut Wednesday morning at the National Zoo, and I got a special preview of the little guy! He’s not on public display until January 16th, but I’ve got you covered until then!

The 17-and-a-half pound giant panda bear held court Wednesday morning for his first press conference. Bei Bei handled it like a pro, posing for pictures and giving the people what they want: More Bei Bei. And then, like a true diva – when he had enough, he took a nap.

“It’s pretty exciting I’m not going to lie,” says Giant Panda biologist, Laurie Thompson. “It’s always fun to have babies around!” Especially when the babies look like Bei Bei.

Like most babies his age, Bei Bei is really only interested in a few things. “He just wants to either have more food milk or just wants to be on his own and explore his habitat,” says Giant Panda keeper, Juan Rodriguez.

“He’s learning to explore his world a little bit. He’s just starting to play with his momma. You’ll see them have little nip fests where he bites her on the foot,” says Thompson.

Bei Bei’s parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian were not too far away.

Bei Bei’s zookeeper says the cub is already proving to be pretty special. “He’s been a very unique in the beginning, he was very quiet when he was first born but when he has gotten older he has become more vocal,” says Rodriguez.

“He’s actually walking a lot sooner than his older sister did. “He’s about 4 or so pounds heavier than his sister was at this same age.”  He’s also developing faster than his older brother, Tai Shan, who was born in 2005, according to Rodriguez. “He’s going to be a big, big bear when he’s older.”

Bei Bei’s handlers are documenting everything about him, his quirks, growth and progress. Information that’s not only important for Bei Bei’s development, but also for an even bigger goal: Conservation.

“He’ s a Giant Panda that’s very endangered so people need to remember that we need to protect the pandas. As cute as he is, there’s not many of them left,” says Thompson.

“Most importantly, these guys are endangered species. Ultimately when they get older they are not going to be our pets so that’s probably the hardest part of this whole process,” says Rodriguez. “When they get older they are going to be a part of a really bigger picture and a bigger program.”

And in case you are wondering, no, you cannot spoon Bei Bei. “Only Mei Xiang can spoon with Bei Bei,” says Thompson.

If you’re a zoo member, you can even get an earlier peak, from January 8th through the 15th.

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