Watch Our Favourite Movies from Large Panda Cub Xiao Qi Ji’s First 12 months
One yr in the past, the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo welcomed Xiao Qi Ji — a treasured big panda born within the midst of a world pandemic. Followers who observe the beloved bear’s #PandaStory from the start reveled in watching him develop into the playful and curious cub he’s immediately. As the large panda crew prepares to rejoice Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday Aug. 21, have a look again at his high 12 milestones that left panda followers around the globe in awe and “aww.”
1. First Veterinary Examination
At 6:35 p.m. Aug. 21, 2020, a treasured big panda cub arrived! Mom Mei Xiang instantly picked up her cub and cuddled it shut. Throughout these first essential days, she targeted all her consideration on caring for her new child.
The cub gained weight and grew into the pandas’ signature “plump,” an indication that it was getting good diet from Mei Xiang’s milk. On Sept. 19, Zoo veterinarians performed the new child’s first medical examination. The veterinary crew listened to the cub’s coronary heart and lungs, palpated its abdomen, examined its suckle reflex and moved all 4 limbs to evaluate its musculoskeletal improvement. All indicators pointed to a wholesome and robust bear!
Veterinarians took a fast swab of the cub’s cheek for DNA evaluation. Outwardly, female and male cubs seem comparable at beginning, so a genetic check was probably the most correct approach to decide whether or not the cub was a male or feminine. They introduced the swab to the Zoo’s Middle for Conservation Genomics, the place Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists analyzed the cub’s DNA to substantiate its intercourse. After weeks of anticipation, Zoo scientists decided the large panda cub was a male!
2. First Steps
Due to followers everywhere in the world, the Zoo’s big panda cub obtained his identify Nov. 23 — Xiao Qi Ji, which suggests “little miracle” in Mandarin Chinese language.
Then, at 3 months and 5 days outdated, Xiao Qi Ji took his first steps! On Thanksgiving morning, he rested simply exterior the den whereas his mom slept inside. After months of follow, he positioned all 4 ft beneath him and took a number of wobbly steps towards her earlier than toppling over.
3. First Toys
In January 2021, the 4-month-old cub’s curiosity in his environment actually took off. Keepers gave him two toys to research: a small crimson egg (completely sized for a panda cub) and an empty PVC puzzle feeder.
These enrichment gadgets encourage the large pandas to maintain bodily energetic and mentally sharp; in addition they give the bears a chance to make use of their pure behaviors and select easy methods to spend their time.
When Xiao Qi Ji explored the habitat and occurred upon these toys, he normally stopped for a couple of minutes to paw at them, decide them up and provides them a nibble. At that age, Hei appeared to discover the world along with his mouth and infrequently tried to provoke a play session with a number of not-so-ferocious bites.. Xiao Qi J nibbled on every thing from his paws and enrichment toys to Mei Xiang’s ears!
4. First Style of Candy Potato
The day Xiao Qi Ji turned 5 months outdated, keepers determined to introduce him to one thing new. Utilizing a chunk of bamboo shred as a spoon, they scraped some cooked candy potato onto the top, then handed it over to Xiao Qi Ji. He grabbed the bamboo in his mouth, paused for a second to soak up the brand new style, then lay again and licked the rest. After they provided him extra, he wouldn’t cease nibbling on it!
Xiao Qi Ji clearly loved this new deal with, which isn’t shocking since each Mei Xiang and his father, Tian Tian, are additionally keen on candy potatoes. Along with bamboo, nutrient-rich biscuits, carrots and apples, candy potatoes are a part of our pandas’ balanced food regimen.
5. First Digital Encounter With Followers
On Jan. 27, the large panda crew hosted their first-ever digital encounter with Xiao Qi Ji. In the course of the dwell broadcast, they gave him a brilliant inexperienced ball with a small deal with. Since it’s created from a softer materials than the adults’ toys, it’s excellent for him to chew on and sink his claws into. It’s also scented like inexperienced apple, offering some olfactory enrichment, too! In the course of the livestream, this ball was on the middle of a pleasant sport of tug-of-war between Xiao Qi Ji and keeper Marty Dearie.
6. First Encounter With Snow
On Sunday, Jan. 31, big panda cub Xiao Qi Ji skilled one more massive milestone — his first encounter with snow! Because the flakes had been falling, the panda crew introduced Xiao Qi Ji out of the indoor enclosure to a snow-covered patio behind-the-scenes. He appeared not sure about it at first and stood there for a second to take all of it in. Keeper Stacey Tabellario constructed him his personal panda-cub-sized snowman. He sniffed it earlier than taking a frosty chew. He explored the world for about 5 minutes earlier than keepers took him again inside. Though his journey was a brief one, he appeared to have time.
7. First Journey Exterior
Only a few days shy of turning 6 months outdated, big panda cub Xiao Qi Ji accompanied Mei Xiang into their outside habitat for the primary time. Round 7:30 a.m. Feb. 16, the large panda crew opened the door that separates their indoor and outside habitats.
Very like his siblings Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei had been throughout their first outings, Xiao Qi Ji was cautious but curious. Largely, he stayed on the sidewalk in the back of the yard. Mei Xiang continued to calmly eat whereas her son ventured onto the grass and pawed at one among their enrichment toys. He walked alongside the wall of the panda home, sniffed the doorways and gates and took in all the brand new sights and smells.
Xiao Qi Ji peeked into the “howdy” window that appears into his father Tian Tian’s yard. He additionally examined out his climbing expertise on the mesh that separates the keeper space from the bears’ yard, however he didn’t get far earlier than he misplaced his grip and dropped just some inches to the bottom beneath. Though Xiao Qi Ji stayed near “house base,” his first outing within the yard was profitable!
8. Climbing to New Heights
Heading into spring, 7-month-old Xiao Qi Ji was getting the hold of the each day routine on the Panda Home and explored extra of his outside habitat. On March 12, Mei Xiang took him on a tour of the moat—the world crammed with greenery on the entrance of their habitat. That tour appeared to spice up Xiao Qi Ji’s confidence! Following that subject journey, he explored different areas of the yard each day — even on his personal. Xiao Qi Ji additionally found out easy methods to use the logs as a pathway and adopted them to the highest of the grotto!
9. Panda Cub Preschool
When Xiao Qi Ji was round 8 months outdated, the large panda crew started to coach him to voluntarily take part in his personal healthcare. Utilizing optimistic reinforcement coaching, keepers educate our pandas behaviors that permit them to watch the bears’ total well being and look at them up shut.
Participation in these actions is at all times voluntary, however the pandas know they are going to obtain a favourite deal with as a reward in the event that they take part. At this age, Xiao Qi Ji eats practically the entire similar meals that his dad and mom eat — bamboo, candy potato, nutrient-rich fiber biscuits, pears and apples — regularly. This well-balanced food regimen helps him develop massive and robust.
One of many first behaviors animals study is to “goal.” Keepers current the pandas with a buoy on a stick, and so they instinctively sniff to research the brand new, fascinating object. Each time Xiao Qi Ji touched his nostril to the buoy, keepers stated “good job” and gave him a deal with — normally a chunk of candy potato, apple or pear.
10. Xiao Qi Ji Greets His Followers
When our 9-month-old big panda cub Xiao Qi Ji made his first look to guests Could 21, he went about his each day routine and by no means skipped a beat. He napped within the cover of his favourite tree within the morning. Then, within the early afternoon, he trotted contained in the Panda Home and performed with Mei Xiang whereas she rested on the rockwork.
11. A Fast Learner
At 10 months outdated, Xiao Qi Ji realized a model new habits: rise up. To offer the cue, big panda keeper Mariel Lally holds her hand in entrance of his face and factors her index finger as much as the sky, then slowly raises it. Xiao Qi Ji follows her finger and stands up on his hind legs. The primary time he did this habits efficiently, he obtained a nutrient-rich biscuit and a really enthusiastic “good boy!” Like his dad and mom, Xiao Qi Ji is a fast learner. He mastered this habits on his second attempt!
The “rise up” habits provides keepers and vets an up-close view of his torso, entrance legs and hind legs that they might not see if he was farther away in his habitat. This permits our animal care crew to test for any lumps, bumps, scrapes or accidents that will require medical consideration.
At this age, our crew can safely share an area with the cub. As he continues to develop, although, that won’t at all times be the case. Like his dad and mom, someday Xiao Qi Ji will solely work together with them by means of mesh.
Xiao Qi Ji has a knack for turning something right into a enjoyable toy — from enrichment gadgets, to items of bamboo, to sticks that he finds exterior. Our 11-month-old cub can be inquisitive. When Xiao Qi Ji investigates his surroundings, he tends to be extra cautious than his brothers and sister had been. Whether or not climbing up or down, he takes his time and is cautious about his footing. He very not often misses a step!
Throughout, Xiao Qi Ji appears to make good selections. He comes indoors (the place there may be air con) when the warmth of the day units in. He readily involves keepers after they name his identify, a habits often called “recalling.”
Final, however not least, he has change into an excellent star with husbandry coaching. He mastered a number of behaviors, together with goal coaching, climbing upon a scale and standing up on cue. Lately, keepers launched a brand new habits, voluntary blood draw coaching, which permits them to watch his well being additional. They’re nonetheless at first phases of this habits, so keep tuned for updates as he masters it.
This previous yr has been a difficult one, in lots of respects, however watching this little cub become the good, observant, inquisitive and goofy bear he’s immediately has introduced our big panda crew — and followers around the globe — plenty of pleasure.
We invite you to be a part of his first birthday celebration! On Aug. 21, tune in dwell at 7:30 a.m. to the Zoo’s Large Panda Cam to see Xiao Qi Ji take pleasure in a candy deal with to start out his big day. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian can even take pleasure in ice truffles in honor of their son’s first birthday. A video of the particular second can be shared on-line post-breakfast in the event you’re unable to tune in dwell.
This story was featured within the August 2021 challenge of Nationwide Zoo Information. Behind these “aww”-inspiring moments, an knowledgeable crew works tirelessly to offer our panda household with every thing they should thrive, guaranteeing a brilliant future for this species. If this cub sparks pleasure for you, please think about making a donation to the Zoo. On behalf of the animals we look after and defend: thanks!