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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Bao Bao makes first public appearance

pandaThis post was written by Hatchet reporter Everly Jazi.

Overcoming a bitter cold and the Red Line construction, hundreds of people lined up for their first glimpses of the National Zoo’s five-month-old giant panda this weekend.

One of the best-known babies since Prince George, Bao Bao is the zoo’s first giant panda cub to survive birth in almost a decade.

The baby bear, who was born in late August and now weighs just over 18 pounds, debuted publicly Saturday.

Bao Bao’s introduction was meant only for Friends of the National Zoo members until 10 a.m., but eager visitors lined up before 8 a.m. to get their five minutes in the Panda House.

Amanda Roland and Justin Jensen drove from their home in Boston to see Bao Bao. Roland said her Saturday visit coincided with her late father’s birthday, someone with whom she shared a special love of pandas.

After entering the Panda House with a group of 30 fellow panda lovers, visitors viewed Bao Bao from behind a glass enclosure. The National Zoo warned that Bao Bao and her mother, Mei Xiang, “will have access to the den where Bao Bao has spent much of the past few months and may choose to spend time in there instead of on exhibit.”

Luckily, Bao Bao stayed for the morning, lying on her back and playing with a pink ball while zookeepers monitored her from inside the exhibit.

Jonathon Nguyen, a zoo employee in charge of crowd control, said he expected 10,000 Bao Bao visitors on Saturday alone. Like others, Nguyen is a Bao Bao fan.

“Within the first two weeks to a month she stayed with her mother the whole time, we couldn’t get her to leave at all,” Nguyen said.

While waiting outside the exhibit, visitors shared memories of zoo events, including the escape of Rusty the red panda, who is now safely back in his exhibit outside the Panda House.

After seeing Bao Bao, many chose to stay back and watch video from the Panda Cam control room. There were also shops such as the Panda Café and the Panda Market, selling everything from ornaments to panda headphones.

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