Aww: The National Zoo's Panda Is Growing Up!
The 18-month-old has been weaned from her mother Mei Xiang, just as she would in the wild at this age
If pandas are anything like humans, Bao Bao will soon ask for the keys to the car.
For more than six months, zookeepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., have been working toward weaning the giant panda from her mother Mei Xiang, just as she would in the wild, and now, well, the 18-month-old is basically like your typical American teenager: taking lots of time apart from her parent.
“Over the past several weeks the two became comfortable spending six hours or more apart each day,” reads a message posted on the zoo’s website. “The final step in the weaning process was to get Mei and Bao Bao comfortable spending their nights apart.”
Over the weekend, a member of the zoo’s panda team stayed at the panda house until 10 p.m., and each night, a keeper monitored both bears to ensure they weren’t anxious. Finally, on Sunday night, after two calm and uneventful sleeps, the panda team let them spend the entire night apart – and the test was bear-y successful!
“Neither seemed to mind being apart,” the zoo said. “Bao Bao even played with some of her new toys in the middle of the night. The keepers reported that the entire process went smoothly.”
While the National Zoo – and every panda-lover everywhere – may shed a tear that Bao Bao is a baby no more, it’s truly an exciting time for the little lady.
“She has officially graduated from cub to juvenile panda!” said the zoo.
So, what’s next for Bao Bao, R-rated movies? Nope. According to CBS News, the growing girl will continue to live at the panda house until she turns 4, then she’ll go back to China as part of an agreement with the Chinese government and eventually have cubs of her own.
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