Some Good Zoo News: Washington’s Baby Panda Is Learning to Walk

After a string of tragic news from zoos across the nation comes a much-needed, heart-warming video of baby panda’s first steps at the National Zoo.

The National Zoo's yet-unnamed baby panda is looking flufflier than she did before the government shutdown began.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Nov. 19, 2013, 8:50 a.m.

It hasn’t been a smooth week for Amer­ica’s zoos. On Monday, a mem­ber of the Smith­so­ni­an’s Na­tion­al Zoo staff was at­tacked by a zebra and sent to the hos­pit­al with mul­tiple bite wounds. A young gazelle, spooked by the in­cid­ent, charged in­to a bar­ri­er and died. At the Dal­las Zoo, two male lions un­ex­pec­tedly turned on a 5-year-old li­on­ess, clamp­ing down on her throat un­til she suf­foc­ated.

But there is a light at the end of the en­clos­ure. Ac­tu­ally, there’s three, and they’re all furry and ad­or­able. The Na­tion­al Zoo’s pair of Sumat­ran ti­ger cubs made their pub­lic de­but on Monday, frol­ick­ing about their out­door hab­it­at with their mom. And on Tues­day, the zoo re­leased video of its gi­ant panda cub’s at­tempt­ing to take its first steps. The video will turn your day around.

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No shame in watch­ing at your desk, either. A 2009 study found that ex­pos­ure to cute an­im­als can boost fo­cus, at­ten­tion to de­tail, and care­ful be­ha­vi­or. So cheer­ing on the panda cub as she tries to stand may ac­tu­ally im­prove your work per­form­ance.

The Na­tion­al Zoo’s three-month old cub now weighs a healthy 10 pounds. She will not be named un­til she is 100 days old, in ac­cord­ance with Chinese tra­di­tion. The zoo an­nounced five po­ten­tial names earli­er this month, al­low­ing panda fans across the coun­try to pick their fa­vor­ite. Vot­ing re­mains open un­til the end of this week, and the win­ning name will be an­nounced Dec. 1.