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.
Zoo keeper Zuzana Matyasova poses with penguins during the annual stock take at London Zoo January 3, 2013.
The compulsory count of more than 17,500 animals is noted annually as part of the zoo’s licence, and the information is logged with the International Species Information System (ISIS), used for managing international breeding programs of endangered animals. [REUTERS/Luke MacGregor]