What’s next for Bao Bao?

WASHINGTON — The next big event for Bao Bao, the panda cub at the National Zoo who just turned one year old, will be separating from her mother. But that won’t happen for about another six months.

Giant Panda Keeper Nicole MacCorkle helps take care of all three pandas currently at the National Zoo including Bao Bao and the cub’s parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. MacCorkle also cared for the cub’s older brother Tai Shan before he went to China.

MacCorkle says the next major milestone is for Bao Bao to be weaned from her mother to live on her own.

“Once she’s weaned she will live independently. But what that’s going to do is gear us up for another big milestone. Hopefully, because that will lead us into breeding season again for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian and our hope will be that we will have another cub in 2015,” she says.

But for now, Bao Bao is little Miss Independent, according to MacCorkle. “She’s getting a little more assertive,” she says. The cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, is not known for sharing her treats.

“We’re actually seeing that Bao Bao is holding her own. If there’s a favorite food item, now she can keep her mom at bay. She’s getting to be a very strong willed, independent and assertive little cub in her own right,” MacCorkle says.

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