Bao Bao, the baby giant panda cub at National Zoo in Washington, got to play outside for the first time on Tuesday.
Zoo officials said Bao Bao would be allowed to go out once the weather got a little warmer, and cub-proofed the play area by placing barriers on the trees so she couldn't climb too high and soft bales of hay below in case she fell. As long as the temperature is warm enough and there's no rain or snow, Bao Bao will be allowed to venture out each day to play in her mother Mei Xiang’s area.
Pandas have captivated humans for decades, and little Bao Bao is no exception. Because the creatures are rarely social and only mate during a brief window of time, the birth of a baby panda is a big deal. In fact, female pandas will show signs of pregnancy after mating even if they aren't pregnant due to hormones, and it's nearly impossible to tell if a baby is on the way until she actually goes into labor.
Bao Bao's mother, Mei Xiang, did mate with a male but never conceived, so she was artificially inseminated. When Bao Bao was born last summer, the event made headlines and kept zoologists captivated--and hard at work--for days.
Image via YouTube