Pandemonium: He's Cute

* It's a boy! Almost a month after its birth, the world knows that the baby panda at the National Zoo is a male. The panda now is about 12 inches long and weighs 1.82 pounds.

Zoo veterinarians got their first close-up look at the giant panda cub yesterday morning when mom Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) left the enclosure where she and her son have been living since July 9. While mom got bamboo and water for breakfast, the zoo vets creeped into the enclosure and took the cub for a first doctor's visit.

The exam lasted just nine minutes, during which vets checked the cub's breathing and heart rate. He squawked just once, while vets looked in his mouth. The doctors report that he is "very solid and sturdy and extremely cute," according to a report on the National Zoo's Web site.

Zoo visitors won't be able to see mother and son for another two months, but dad Tian Tian can be seen in the outside part of the panda exhibit.

On Tuesday, KidsPost will celebrate the cub's 1-month birthday with a special page filled with panda facts and an illustration showing how big the cub is now.

National Zoo vets get their first close look at the 31/2-week-old panda cub.