The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Video shows baby panda Bei Bei doing tricks for treats at National Zoo

Bei Bei, the 11-month old panda at the National Zoo practiced some tricks for the world to see during a training session broadcast on Facebook Live on July 22. (Video: Facebook/National Zoo)

Bei Bei, the National Zoo’s baby giant panda, performed tricks in exchange for treats of apple and sweet potato pieces Friday in a Facebook Live video.

Keepers who work with the 11-month old panda offered a glimpse behind the scenes of their roughly 5- to 10-minute sessions.

Laurie Thompson, an assistant curator at the giant panda habitat at the zoo, walked through the training of Bei Bei in Friday morning’s video. Bei Bei followed her simple commands to lie down, put his paw under the cage door, and “stand,” moving on his hind legs with long, sharp-looking claws poking through a cage.

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.

‘Bei Bei is just so cute, a little ball of fluff’

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.

Giant panda takes a bath at National Zoo

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.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo posted video on Feb. 25, showing its youngest panda enjoying a leaf eater biscuit full of vitamins, protein, fat and fiber. (Video: Smithsonian's National Zoo/Facebook)

Save

Save

Loading...