Bei Bei becoming independent

WASHINGTON — On Saturday, Bei Bei commenced a rite of passage all panda cubs go through: weaning from his mother.

The 2-year-old panda cub will be separating from mother Mei Xiang, and has started to live in a separate yard. Bei Bei now lives in yard three.

“Bei Bei is already adjusting, and has been exploring and making use of the features of his new enclosures, such as napping in his indoor hammock,” said the National Zoo in a news release Saturday.

Through the weaning process, it is possible for Bei Bei to climb over to see his mother, who lives in yard two, but “the disruption is short-lived.” Drawing out the separating process can make weaning more stressful for both mom and cub, so a “clean, quick separation” is the easiest way for both to adjust, said the National Zoo.

Pandas are solitary animals, and cubs typically wean from their mothers at 18 months old.

Bei Bei is the third panda cub the National Zoo has weaned.

What’s next? The National Zoo said that Mei Xiang and Tian Tian (Bei Bei’s father) seem to be preparing for the upcoming breeding season.

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