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Red Carpet Ready: Bao Bao Takes a Bow

The panda cub born last fall at the National Zoo is learning to crawl, climb and pose for pictures.

Bao Bao, the panda cub born at the National Zoo, will be ready for public viewing on Jan. 18. Credit: National Zoo
Bao Bao, the panda cub born at the National Zoo, will be ready for public viewing on Jan. 18. Credit: National Zoo

Bao Bao the 5-month-old panda cub, already a media darling, can be seen by visitors to theSmithsonian's National Zoo starting Jan. 18, according to the zoo’s website.

The amount of time Bao Bao and Mei Xiang will be on exhibit each day will depend on the bears' behavior, the zoo says. In the first few weeks they may not be on exhibit for long periods of time; they will spend more time on exhibit as Bao Bao gets older. They will also have access to the den, where Bao Bao has spent much of the past few months, and may choose to spend time in it instead of in public viewing areas.

In preparation for her public debut, Bao Bao met the media on Monday.

As soon as Bao Bao was let into the indoor panda enclosure, the five-month-old immediately started walking, climbing, and exploring, says WJLA.com.

"She's actually building up her muscles and learning how to climb -- everything that a baby does -- and it takes a few tumbles here and there, but honestly she is so dense and full of fur that it doesn't bother her at all," animal keeper Laurie Thompson told the TV station.

Bao Bao translates as "treasure" or "precious" in English. It was one of five Mandarin Chinese names that were offered for a public online vote in November. 

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