Here comes trouble! DC’s giant panda cub takes first trip to yard

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji.
Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji explores his outdoor habitat for the first time, just a few days shy of turning 6 months old. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoo)
During his first trip out into the yard, Xiao Qi Ji walked along the wall of the panda house, sniffed the doors and gates and took in all the new sights and smells. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoo)
Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji.

You know what they say: First they’re walking, then they’re off to college and suddenly they’re getting married — well, now try to panda-ify those milestones.

Xiao Qi Ji, the Smithsonian National Zoo’s nearly 6-month-old giant panda cub, has ventured “out of the house” after making his inaugural visit to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on Feb. 16.

Once he was coaxed out by the keepers, the zoo said he was “cautious yet curious,” just like his siblings were before him.

The little guy fiddled with one of the toys, looked through the “howdy” window into his father Tian Tian’s den and climbed some mesh that separates the keeper area from the pandas’ yard, but didn’t get too high up before tumbling a few inches back down.

Xiao Qi Ji had enough of his ever-expanding world after about 45 minutes and eventually returned inside to eat some fresh bamboo with his mom, Mei Xiang.

The zoo said it plans on letting its youngest panda cub take another trip outside when the weather gets above freezing and snow and sleet are out of the forecast, so stay tuned for the next milestone.

You can watch video of Xiao Qi Ji in action below.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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