It has been over 70 days since a baby panda was born in Everland. During these last two+ months the little one has shown shockingly fast growth. When she was born, she was less than 200 grams in weight and less than 20 cm long. But now she weighs ten times as much and has more than doubled her length! All this growing is tiring for the little bundle, as she sleeps almost all of the hours of the day. But every time she wakes up, she has gotten just a little bit longer.
The first week: Pink and new
In the late evening of the 20th of July, the child of Ai Bao and Le Bao was born. The tiny sprog only weighed in at 197 grams and could only stretch to 16.5 cm. The mother Ai Bao didn’t do anything for three days except hold the little cub.
The little lady was able to drink milk on the second day and also had a medical checkup then. The mother also got some special attention. The zoo staff gave her soft bamboo shoots for her first meal after the birth, as she was too tired to eat normal leaves. Even though it is difficult to get nutritious bamboo shoots in the summer, the Everland staff had been testing to see which types of bamboo shoots she liked best for two years, so they already had a supply of her favorite type they had been saving for this occasion. Ai Bao was in the best of hands, and so was her child.
Second week: A little bit pudgier, a little bit darker
By the end of the second week the little cub had gained an entire 100 grams. That’s as much as a whole banana! She had also gained over an entire centimeter of length, now measuring up to 17.6cm on a good stretch. Most of the new weight could be seen as a lot more pudginess in her little panda body.
She was also starting to show black patches under her skin, where black fur would soon grow. The pigmentation was just the first step to the long task of growing a full coat of fur. Her tail seemed extra long at this stage, but she was certain to grow into it. Eventually it will look like a normal-size panda tail.
During this week, the little panda cub’s eyes were still closed, so she was operating by smell and touch only. But if she ever felt any discomfort, she only had to cry and her mother would instantly take care of her.
Three weeks after birth: Eyesight!
The third week after her birth was very significant for the baby panda. She packed on the grams, going from 296 g back in week two to 932 grams at the end of week three! She also gained 7 entire centimeters of length, approximately the size of an entire adult finger. Zookeepers also started giving Ai Bao a rest for three hours a day by taking the baby to feed it milk from a bottle for a little extra nourishment.
At 24.4 cm by the end of the third week, she could beat a hedgehog in a length contest.
One month in: Fuzz and independence
After a strict and tiring regimen of eating, sleeping, and growing, Ai Bao’s little baby girl reached the 1kg milestone. As she then weighed as much as a liter of water, her mother began putting her down sometimes to go to the bathroom or drink. But that was okay because the little fuzz on the little baby meant that she could control her own temperature a little bit and didn’t need her mother to hold her absolutely all the time.
Previously, Ai Bao would always hold her baby with both paws wherever she went. The zookeepers would feed Ai Bao her bamboo, as she was too careful with the baby to even try to eat with her own paws. But after a month Ai Bao learned how to hold the baby with one paw and eat bamboo with the other.
It was during the one-month mark that the baby panda also slept away from its mother’s arms for the first time.
40 days: Almost a second kilogram to follow the first
Around the 40-day mark the baby panda reaches 1.5 kg and she can stretch up to 32.4 cm. She is now almost as tall as a bowling pin! All this growing is very tiring, so she sleeps almost 23 hours a day. Ai Bao spends most of her time licking and cuddling with her baby.
A panda mother’s care is critical for a panda cub as it cannot control its own biorhythms. The panda mother’s care and licking controls the cub’s temperature, cleans off any dirt and excreta, and helps to form a bond between mother and daughter. Also, like human babies, the panda cub builds its immune system with the antibodies found in her mother’s milk. For all of these reasons, the zookeepers stopped separating the mother and child at all and let Ai Bao breastfeed her 100% of the time.
Fifty days on: 10 times the panda she used to be
Now the little panda cub has exceeded the shockingly large weight of 2kg and shows no signs of slowing down this explosive growth. She is now 10 times as big as she was when she was born.
She is also exhibiting a new trick – rolling! The little baby panda is learning to roll over now. She is utilizing her newfound skills to separate herself from her mother and play or sleep by herself. She is aided in this newfound freedom by her thick and luxurious fur coat. Everland caretakers estimate that she is sleeping alone now about 80% of the time.
But don’t worry, her mother still loves her to death.