As the National Zoo celebrated 50 years of the iconic panda exchange with China, the most prominent tenants of the National Zoo enjoyed a hearty breakfast Saturday before adoring crowds.
Xiao Qi Ji was largely absent from the morning festivities. His father Tian Tian munched bamboo in a nearby enclosure, the sounds of his chomping being clearly heard during a Qin Gang statement. The ambassador called the bears "a symbol for the friendship" between the countries.
Pandas live almost exclusively alone in nature and would never meet their child. For lunch, he received a similar cake.
Saturday's celebration was not only about the 1972 agreement that President Richard Nixon signed in China, but also the successes of the global giant panda breeding programme, which has saved the bears from certain death.
Xiao Qi Ji was born in August 2020. This was due to Mei Xiang being an older panda and the fact that zoo staff had to perform the artificial fertilization shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic closed the entire zoo. Mei Xiang, a giant panda at 22 years old, was the first to give birth in America.
They would normally use a mixture of fresh Tian Tian semen and frozen sperm. To reduce the need for close-quarters medical procedures at the zoo, officials only used frozen semen.
Bryan Amaral (the senior curator for mammals at the zoo) stated that "it was definitely a long shot pregnancy."
The cub, now 20 months old, was named "little wonder" in honor of the long shot.His birth during pandemic caused a new wave of pandamania. Viewership on the zoo’s pandacam livestream increased by 1,200%.
Amaral stated, "I know how passionate people about pandas," "I don't find it surprising that people are so passionate about pandas," Amaral said.
At 8 a.m., when the zoo opened, the crowds began to stream straight for the panda area. Everley and Sister Lorelai Greenwell, both 6 and 5, ran towards the enclosure singing "Pandas!" Pandas!"
They saw the cub fall around, wrestle with his mom, and take the zero off of the 50-inch-wide ice cream.
Kayleigh Greenwell, a mother from Mount Ranier, Maryland said that her daughters knew what was coming. "We've been talking all week about it."
Ling-Ling and Hsing - Hsing-Hsinging were the original 1972 panda couple at the zoo. They were a star attraction for many decades. However, panda pregnancies can be notoriously difficult and no cubs survived.
Mei Xiang, Tian Tian, and their cubs, Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei, were also successfully conceived by artificial insemination. All four were taken to China by the zoo under the terms of its agreement with China.
Similar agreements have been made with zoos all over the globe to help revive the panda giant population. The species was down to less than 1000 bears by the 1980s and has been removed from the endangered animal lists.