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Baby Giant Panda is San Diego Zoo’s “Little Gift”

Due to habitat loss and human disturbance, only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the world.

Wait. Make that one thousand, six hundred and one. And the latest is a very special “one.” On July 29, 2012, Bai Yun gave birth to her sixth offspring at the San Diego Zoo. Not only is Bai Yun one of the most prolific panda mamas in the world; now, with the arrival of her latest cub, that birth marks the San Diego Zoo as the site for the most giant pandas born at a breeding facility outside of China.

Due to giant pandas somewhat delicate nature, and as not to upset the mother/child bond, it would take several weeks, and only a few super-quick exams, before the vets at the San Diego Zoo were able to determine the sex and health of Bai Yun’s wide-eyed babe: a boy with a big belly (at five weeks his tummy girth was 12-inches indicating he was eating well). In keeping with Chinese cultural tradition, it would take a total of 100 days and plenty of suggestions from the community at large, before Bai Yun and father Gao Gao’s little cub would eventually get his name: Xiao Liwu, which translates to “little gift.”

It’s been three weeks since panda cub Xiao Liwu’s public debut, and he is doing a great job learning how to be a zoo panda. Xiao Liwu has become an early riser, waking up early with his mom, ready to make his way out to the north exhibit. The zoo has no problem shifting him out in the morning: he eagerly follows Bai Yun through the shift tunnel out to the exhibit, often passing his mother in the tunnel and arriving to the exhibit before his mom has time to catch up!

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo, known for its lush habitats and unique animal encounters, is home to more than just pandas, including 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing approximately 660 species and subspecies and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 plants.

You can add the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket to your Southern California CityPASS only through The one-time admission to either San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park gives you a chance to see Xiao Liwu up close - he is on exhibit daily from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., weather permitting. Befitting a somewhat shy guy, you can also check out what he is up to on the zoo’s world-famous live “panda cam” where you will often find the growing bear unintentionally mugging for the camera, pestering his Mom or perfecting his tree-climbing skills because that is what “kids” do…even pandas.