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National Zoo gets ready to celebrate panda cub's first birthday

“Watching this little cub develop into the smart, observant, inquisitive and goofy bear he is today has brought us—and fans around the world—a lot of joy.”

WASHINGTON — Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji has just three weeks left before he celebrates his first year around the sun and staff at the National Zoo are gearing up for the milestone. 

“As a keeper, much of my time is spent observing and interacting with Xiao Qi Ji. His personality is very evident!” Mariel Lally wrote of the cub in the Zoo's most recent panda update. “Watching him run around the habitat with a bounce to his step puts a smile on my face. Xiao Qi Ji has a knack for turning anything into a fun toy—from enrichment items to pieces of bamboo, to sticks that he finds outside.”

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The keeper shared in her last update that the cub is adjusting well to new practices. She shared that it took Xiao Qi Ji only two tries to master standing up on his hind legs on cue and he has just begun voluntary blood draw training; two critical steps meant to help monitor the cub’s health. 

“Watching this little cub develop into the smart, observant, inquisitive and goofy bear he is today has brought us—and fans around the world—a lot of joy,” Lally continued. 

Learn more about the giant pandas at the National Zoo here. 

If you’d like to see the cub and his giant panda comrades, be sure to snag a free pass for the zoo. 

Despite most Smithsonian museums no longer requiring the timed entry passes, the zoo is one of the three exceptions.

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However, now you do not need a separate pass for the Asia Trail and panda viewing. As long as you have your ticket to enter the zoo, you are free to find the pandas and stay as long as you wish. 

Passes to enter the zoo are available here.

It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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