Some Good Zoo News: Washington's Baby Panda Is Learning to Walk

Marina Koren
National Journal

It hasn't been a smooth week for America's zoos. On Monday, a member of the Smithsonian's National Zoo staff was attacked by a zebra and sent to the hospital with multiple bite wounds. A young gazelle, spooked by the incident, charged into a barrier and died. At the Dallas Zoo, two male lions unexpectedly turned on a 5-year-old lioness, clamping down on her throat until she suffocated.

But there is a light at the end of the enclosure. Actually, there's three, and they're all furry and adorable. The National Zoo's pair of Sumatran tiger cubs made their public debut on Monday, frolicking about their outdoor habitat with their mom. And on Tuesday, the zoo releasedvideo of its giant panda cub's attempting to take its first steps. The video will turn your day around.

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No shame in watching at your desk, either. A 2009 study found that exposure to cute animals can boost focus, attention to detail, and careful behavior. So cheering on the panda cub as she tries to stand may actually improve your work performance.

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The National Zoo's three-month old cub now weighs a healthy 10 pounds. She will not be named until she is 100 days old, in accordance with Chinese tradition. The zoo announced five potential names earlier this month, allowing panda fans across the country to pick their favorite. Voting remains open until the end of this week, and the winning name will be announced Dec. 1.

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