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UPDATE! San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub's Toys Prepare Him for Foray into Habitat

Pan debut

Yesterday was a big day for the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda cub, Xiao Liwu: this was his first time greeting onlookers. The cub stepped into the outside habitat by himself in morning on January 9 and climbed through the bamboo as employees and media representatives got their first glimpses of the five-month-old.

Panda staff say the cub is a confident climber but may have some tumbles while he's getting used to the new habitat, which is very normal. There are trees, a moat and rocks to climb over, which are all new elements for the cub. In late December he was given toys during his vet exam that helped him prepare for outside exploration, including a doughnut-shaped plastic ring (perfect for panda sitting), a stick of bamboo and a plastic ball. 

Pan ball

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Only 1,600 Giant Pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Giant Panda experts from the People's Republic of China, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs at the Zoo and in China.  

Here's a video of little Xiao Liwu as he navigates the great outdoors with mom.