One year ago, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed Xiao Qi Ji — a precious giant panda born in the midst of a global pandemic. Fans who follow the beloved bear’s #PandaStory from the beginning reveled in watching him grow into the playful and curious cub he is today. As the giant panda team prepares to celebrate Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday Aug. 21, take a look back at his top 12 milestones that left panda fans around the world in awe and “aww.” 1. First Veterinary Exam At 6:35 p.m. Aug. 21, 2020, a precious giant panda cub arrived! Mother Mei Xiang immediately picked up her cub and cuddled it close. During those first critical days, she focused all her attention on caring for her newborn. The cub gained weight and grew into the pandas’ signature “plump,” a sign that it was getting good nutrition from Mei Xiang’s milk. On Sept. 19, Zoo veterinarians conducted the newborn’s first medical exam . The veterinary team listened to the cub’s heart and lungs, palpated its stomach, tested its suckle reflex and moved all four limbs to assess its musculoskeletal development. All signs pointed to a healthy and strong bear! Veterinarians took […]

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