Panda-Mania

At National Zoo

* What's black and white and red all over?

Not the National Zoo's new giant panda cub with diaper rash. The baby panda, born Saturday morning, is -- like all panda cubs -- pretty pink with thin white fur.

The birth was big news for the zoo because it's the first cub born to Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) and Tian-Tian (t-YEN t-YEN). Having a baby panda is a big deal because giant pandas are endangered. (There are only about 1,600 of them living in the wild in China.) Five baby pandas were born at the zoo in the 1980s but none lived more than a few days.

This cub seems healthy. It's making lots of happy squealing sounds, and Mei Xiang seems to be taking very good care of her offspring, zoo officials said.

KidsPost tried to anticipate some of your questions about the new arrival:

* Zoo officials don't know if the panda is a boy or a girl. It could be several weeks before Mei Xiang lets keepers get close enough to find out.

* The cub weighs about four ounces. Go to the fridge and hold a stick of butter to get the idea of how little that is. (Mei Xiang weighs about 250 pounds!)

* You won't be able to see the panda for several months. The panda house is closed to give Mei Xiang and her cub privacy. Tian-Tian likes to hang out outside sometimes, though.

* The baby doesn't have a name, but officials in China will choose several, then the public will get to vote for one.

If you have other panda questions, send them to KidsPost, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Or e-mail kidspost@washpost.com (with "Panda" in the subject field). We'll try to answer some of your questions in KidsPost.

What does a giant panda cub look like? Well, here's a close-up of two cubs -- twins! -- born Friday in China.