Squee! A 5-month-old baby panda made his debut at the San Diego Zoo Thursday, and we can hardly bear the cuteness.
A couple hundred excited visitors were among the first to view the 16-pound ball of fur, named Xiao Liwu (pronounced sshyow lee woo). The cub spent most of the chilly morning alternately sleeping and burrowing into a cozy, straw lined moat in his habitat, zoo spokesperson Christina Simmons told Yahoo! Shine.
"He kind of tumbles into it, which is just adorable," she said. "He's still building up strength in his legs."
Yesterday Xiao Liwu worked a crowd of journalists during a press preview, rolling around and chewing bamboo in his play space, and quickly cementing himself as a paparazzi favorite.
Not only is the cub adorable, he's rare: There are just 12 giant pandas in captivity in the United States, and only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, as the species faces major habitat destruction. The new baby, along with his mother Bai Yun and 3-year-old brother Yun Zi, are at the zoo on a research loan from the People's Republic of China.
Xiao Liwu was born on July 29, but he was given his name, which means "Little Gift" in Mandarin, 107 days after his birth, per Chinese custom of waiting to name babies until they are at least 100 days old. (Before that, zoo vets just called him "Sausage.")
He'll now be on limited daily view from 9:30 to 11:30am. "Because mom and baby are still getting used to people, we only have them on view for a short period," Simmons explained.
According to Ron Swaisgood, director of the zoo's conservation program, it was a challenge at first getting the species to mate. "We couldn't get pandas to do what's supposed to come naturally," he told CBS News. "We did a lot of research. We learned about their behavior, their biology. And so the population is growing exponentially now."
But it can also be difficult to make sure panda cubs thrive in captivity. The National Zoo in Washington D.C. lost and mourned a cub in September, less than a week after he was born, because of lung problems.
So far, the San Diego Zoo has been monitoring Xiao Liwu's every move, releasing news updates and videos about his progress, from his first climb on a tree branch to his love of toys including a green ball and a big plastic ring. You can keep up with all of the panda's adventures through the zoo's live and utterly precious Panda Cam.