National Zoo’s panda cub expands palate

Panda cub
Panda cub Xiao Qi Ji is seen sampling sweet potato. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoo)

The Smithsonian National Zoo’s fluffy panda cub Xiao Qi Ji has been sampling a variety foods as the now 5-month-old continues to grow.

The zoo said Xiao Qi Ji was treated to his first biscuit on Monday.

“The panda team gave him a large, nutrient-rich biscuit to nibble on. Just like his parents — mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian — Xiao Qi Ji held the biscuit in his pseudo thumb while he ate,” wrote Laurie Thompson, assistant curator of giant pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

The zoo said that although Xiao Qi Ji’s “main source of nutrition” is still his mother’s milk, “he seems to have enjoyed sampling sweet potato, bamboo and biscuits over the last few weeks.”

Xiao Qi Ji weighed 24.8 pounds on Wednesday, gaining nearly two pounds since the week before, the zoo said.

Thompson said he is a “very active cub … perfecting his running skills, chasing after Mei Xiang during play.”

A video of the panda enjoying some smashed sweet potato is below.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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