As Bei Bei be­gins wean­ing, some nor­mal grow­ing pains

Nat­u­ral process leads to ‘some stress­ful mo­ments’

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - THE DISTRICT BY PERRY STEIN perry.stein@wash­post.com

Bei Bei the gi­ant panda cub is go­ing through all the child­hood angst that comes with wean­ing from one’s mother, the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Zoo re­ports.

The zoo said Satur­day that Wash­ing­ton’s youngest panda is go­ing through the tra­di­tional panda life stages and is of­fi­cially wean­ing from his mother, Mei Xiang. Pan­das are soli­tary an­i­mals, and cubs typ­i­cally sep­a­rate from their moth­ers at about 18 months. Bei Bei was born Aug. 22, 2015.

The zoo said that while this is a nat­u­ral process, there “have been some stress­ful mo­ments.”

“Bei Bei is a re­silient bear who is learn­ing to be in­de­pen­dent, and the an­i­mal care team is sup­port­ing his ef­forts,” the zoo posted in a “Gi­ant Panda Bul­letin.”

The time­line of Bei Bei’s wean­ing is sim­i­lar to that of Bao Bao’s, the zoo’s pre­vi­ous cub.

China owns and leases all gi­ant pan­das in U.S. zoos — in­clud­ing Bei Bei — and by agree­ment, any cubs born in the United States are sent to China when they are 4 years old.

LINDA DAVID­SON/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Bei Bei, shown Aug. 20 dur­ing his first birth­day week at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton.

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