This giant Panda team will celebrate a significant milestone in just three weeks: Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday. In many ways, this last year has been difficult for them, but witnessing this small cub grow into the clever, observant, curious, and funny bear he is now has brought everyone all across the world—a great deal of joy.
Panda keepers spend a lot of time watching and engaging with Xiao Qi Ji. His personality shines through! One of the keepers tells that he always has a smile on his face as he watches Panda run around the habitat with a bounce in his step. Xiao Qi Ji has an ability to make everything a delightful play, from enrichment things to bamboo pieces, to sticks found outside.
This smart baby is also curious. When it comes to exploring his surroundings, Xiao Qi Ji is more careful than his brothers and sister. Whether climbing up or down, he takes his time and is cautious of his footing. He hardly ever skips a step!
Xiao Qi Ji appears to make good choices all around. When the heat of the day becomes unbearable, he goes indoors (where there is air conditioning). When keepers call his name, he quickly comes to them. Last but not least, with his husbandry training, he has become a super star!
Although participation in training sessions is entirely optional, Xiao Qi Ji always chooses to interact with everyone—especially when there is a sweet potato treat involved. He has also learned a few skills, such as target training and scale climbing. He weighed 26.5 kilos (58.3 pounds) on July 28.
He has ability to stand up on his hind legs on command. This activity allows keepers to evaluate for limb weakness or injuries that may need veterinarian care.
There is also a new behavior, voluntary blood draw training, that allows them to keep a closer eye on his health. Xiao Qi Ji chases a target into the training area, much like his parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. He is taught to stretch his arm through a small window and hold a bar in this space. It is always joyful experience to watch him playing. Check back for updates as he gets better!