Public takes the first glimpse at giant panda cub, Bei Bei

Updated: 2016-01-17 03:20

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(China Daily USA)

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Public takes the first glimpse at giant panda cub, Bei Bei

Visitors take a group photo on January 16 with a panda mascot in the queue outside the Panda house in Smithsonian's Natioanl Zoological Park waiting to see Bei Bei, the giant panda cub who made his public debut Saturday. Pan Jialiang for China Daily

As Po, the animated giant panda in Kong Fu Panda hits the news headlines and captivates eyes in the US, so does the real giant panda, Bei Bei who just makes his first public debut on January 16 at Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington.

"All she has wants to do is see the panda since she watched Kong Fu Panda," John Smith, a professor at Georgetown University, said. He was with his six-year-old daughter waiting outside until the panda house is open.

A long queue was formed in front of the panda house in the early morning, many of whom were children accompanied by their parents. At the entrance of the trail to the panda house, staff handed out red panda bump stickers.

Close to the queue, there is a panda store where people wear panda costumes and buy panda souvenirs. "Thanks to Bei Bei, we have got a lot more visitors today," the cashier at the store said.

Born on August 22 last year, Bei Bei has been the third child of his mother, Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian.

Bei Bei's weight has reached 25 pounds and started to nibble on bamboo. But he is still fed by his mother's milk, Marty Earie, a zoologist at the National Zoo, said. He has been taking care of Bei Bei since he was born.

Unlike his sister Bao Bao, Bei Bei only has a bigger body but a much more outgoing personality. He likes to get closer and calmer to people and pretty chill in front of camera while his sister is more like an independent bear quietly eating bamboo at a corner, according to Earie.

Laurie Thompson, a biologist at the National Park, said people could see more of the panda because his mother is less possessive than she used to be when she had her first two children.

Bei Bei has already been a household name the US since he was a five-ounce pink little meat. During President Xi Jinping's first visit to the US last September, Peng Liyuan and Michelle Obama, the first ladies of China and the US, jointly named the cub Bei Bei, meaning precious treasure.

"I think this is panda diplomacy. It is so amazing that both of the governments can keep the pandas alive and show them to the public. While there some other things that our governments cannot agree on but we can come together for this, Earie said.

Pandas have such a large fan base that the panda house is always the very first draw for people coming the zoo, according to Thomson, who has been taking care of pandas for more than 20 years.

Justin Kotze, who is working in a US consulting company, is a diehard fan of panda. "I have been to Wolong in Sichuan Province, just to see the panda. And my heart was beating so fast when I held up a panda cub in my arms," he said.

Pan Jialiang contributed to this story