Thompson said Bei Bei now weighs about 64 pounds. She described him as a “big, big boy” and said he was “bigger than both of his siblings at this age.”
Thompson said, “We don’t have any worries about him.”
Bei Bei was given his name, which means “precious” or “treasure,” five weeks after his birth by U.S. and Chinese first ladies Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan.
Thompson said the training sessions help experts check his health and look for any injuries, as they can see him up close at the cage. And it helps to build a relationship between him and his trainers. Eventually, he becomes more responsive, she said, to commands like “come inside from the yard.”
Thompson said Bei Bei has shown interest in the training sessions and usually hangs back from his mother as she heads to the outside part of their enclosure. His mother, Mei Xiang, is kept out in the yard while he is trained.
On Friday, Mei Xiang celebrates her 18th birthday. When mama panda realized he was getting treats and she was in another part of the habitat, she began to poke her nose against the cage.
“Mom’s figured out that he’s getting treats, so she’s a little jealous,” Thompson said, laughing slightly.
Thompson said Bei Bei has a personality like his father. “He’s very easygoing,” she said. “Very laid-back. And he loves his food — especially sweet potatoes.” She declared that sweet potatoes are his “favorite thing in the whole world.”
Bei Bei turns one in August, and zoo officials are planning a celebration to commemorate it.
After about five minutes and about 900 people watching his live training session, Bei Bei had enough. He looked toward the gate leading to his outside area, where his mother was.
Thompson opened the gate, and he went on with his day.