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Rare panda cub plays to the gallery at San Diego Zoo

By Reuters in San Diego, California (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-12 09:53

Rare panda cub plays to the gallery at San Diego Zoo

Xiao Liwu, a 6-month-old, 7.3 kg male panda cub, is the latest addition to the San Diego Zoo's panda exhibit. [Provided to China Daily]

Xiao Liwu, the newest surviving giant panda born in captivity in the United States, made his public debut on Thursday at the San Diego Zoo by shunning the media but shining for the public.

During an hour-long, pre-opening introduction to the media and zoo volunteers, the 6-month-old, 7.3 kg male cub rolled in mud and hay, ignoring visitors.

He woke up once the public arrived and poured on the charm, climbing a tree and posing for photos.

Xiao Liwu, which means "little gift", was born on July 29 as the sixth cub of Bai Yun, the zoo's 21-year-old, 101-kg adult female panda.

"(Xiao Liwu) is shy and very loving," said Kay Ferguson, the zoo's panda narrator. "He's inquisitive and he likes to play with balls. He's very different from Bai Yun's other five cubs."

Despite stormy weather and cool temperatures, hundreds lined up for the two-hour viewing.

Bai Yun mostly ignored the baby during the public display. She chomped on bamboo, taking a break only to get a drink of water while the cub played in a nearby tree.

"With the first cub or two, she was very attentive, but the last, she doesn't worry about him at all," said Vivian Kiss, a panda fan.

The cub, roughly the size of a stick of butter when first born, is still nursing and does not yet eat solid food, Ferguson said. "She'll nurse him until he's 18 months old, until she gets so grouchy she kicks him out," she said.

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