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, 16-pound male cub rolled in mud and hay, ignoring visitors, then climbed into a moat at the edge of the enclosure and fell asleep on his face.
He woke up once the public arrived and poured on the charm, climbing a tree and posing for photos.
Giant pandas are endangered, and experts estimate there are fewer than 1,600 in the wild, all in the mountain forests of central China.
Researchers dressed in panda costumes carry a cage as they transfer giant panda Tao Tao to a new living environment at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan province May 3, 2012.
Tao Tao, 21-months-old, and its mother Cao Cao are being transferred to a bigger living environment with a higher altitude and a more complicated terrain, which marks the beginning of the third phase of its training to be reintroduced to the wild. Researchers wear panda costumes to ensure that the cub’s environment is devoid of human influence, according to local media. [REUTERS/China Daily]