(WASHINGTON) — The Smithsonian National Zoo’s five-week-old baby panda cub now has a name — a surprise thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama and Chinese First Lady Madame Peng Liyuan.
The name: Bei Bei, which means “precious treasure,” the National Zoo said.
The First Ladies announced the name while standing in front of the panda exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Friday morning. With the help of local children, they unfurled scrolls bearing the name of the panda.
The announcement was part of China’s official state visit to the U.S. While the First Ladies unveiled the panda’s new name, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the White House.
Bei Bei and his twin were born to Giant Panda Mei Xang on August 22nd, but Bei Bei’s smaller brother passed away within a week. Bei Bei has been kept out of the public eye at the zoo, but the Smithsonian National Zoo has chronicled Bei Bei’s growth on social media — including this weigh-in earlier this week.
The Smithsonian National Zoo has a collaboration with Chinese scientists working to save giant pandas from extinction. The program dates back to 1972 after President Richard Nixon’s state visit to China.
“We do need more bonds to bring the people of our two countries every more closer and I think that giant pandas are exactly one of those bonds to achieve that goal,” Madame Peng said.
“We’re here because we want young people like you to keep doing what you’re doing and that is connecting with young people in other cultures, exposing yourself to new cultures, learning new languages,” First Lady Michelle Obama said.
Keepers were able to weigh the panda cub yesterday and he’s 2.95 pounds of adorable! The 4.5 week-old cub is now larger than both his siblings were at the same age. Bao Bao was about 2 pounds and Tai Shan was 2.6 pounds. He also had a vet exam Sept. 17, and he’s 31 centimeters long from his head to the tip of his tail. He is able to push himself up on his 10 centimeter-long front legs and sometimes scoots around the den. He’s not walking yet, though. But, he can hear now! Keepers noticed that he reacted to the noise of a door opening on Saturday. His eyes won’t open for another few weeks. #PandaStory
A video posted by Smithsonian’s National Zoo (@smithsonianzoo) on Sep 22, 2015 at 12:30pm PDT
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