In August, the Smithsonian National Zoo welcomed a baby boy cub to the conservatory family. Panda parents Tian Tian and Mei Xiang have had four surviving cubs while at the Smithsonian, and you can watch their new baby on a live panda cam, as well as take part in naming Tian Tian and Mei Xiang’s newest little one.
The history of the giant panda exhibit
The adorable addition to the giant panda exhibit continues an existing cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China starting back in 1972. Pandas were originally given as a gift to the first lady Patricia Nixon after she expressed her fondness for the bears. They were offered by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in hopes of establishing a better relationship between China and the United States.
Since then, the U.S. and China have become leaders in panda reproduction research and breeding. The Smithsonian has a detailed timeline and history of the effort to preserve panda life, giving amazing perspective on wildlife conservation and politics.
Watch the baby pandas live online
Before voting on a name, you might want to know a little more about the cub. You can watch the famous panda family and new baby on the Smithsonian’s live web cam. I must say, watching this baby bear roll around in hay is pretty soothing, so if you are working from home and just want to put something on the TV that won’t be too distracting, keep a separate tab open for the pandas and watch every once in a while as the cub stretches and wobbles around. You’ll wish you could pet him through the TV.
Vote for the new baby panda’s name
After you’ve spent some time with the pandas, give an educated vote on what to name the little one. The voting site offers four Mandarin Chinese names to choose from, including the Chinese characters to see how it is written, and audio for hearing accurate pronunciations. Once you’ve decided, select the bubble by your chosen name and click “vote” at the bottom. You’ll see confirmation on the page and a suggestion to donate to the conservation.
Help animal conservation efforts
Only 1,864 giant pandas live in their natural habitat around the world according to the Smithsonian. The panda’s greatest threat is destruction of their natural homes for use as timber and grazing pasture for local agriculture. The advances made by the Smithsonian National Zoo ensure giant pandas continue to be born and work to create safe habitats for them to live in the wild.
You can give a general gift to help the zoo create educational programs about conservation. The Adopt a Giant Panda Mum & Cub package comes with a certificate, animal fact cards, and a huge mum and cub plush toy. The package starts at around $115 and goes towards the panda conservation efforts. And if pandas aren’t your thing, you can also participate in the Adopt a Species program that allows you to directly support the animal of your choice.