A new video of giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji exploring his surroundings at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington has helped get 2021 off to a happy start on social media.
The 60-second clip, posted on Saturday on the zoo’s Instagram account, shows the youngster, whose name translates as “Little Miracle”, struggling to climb a rock formation in his enclosure, while mother Mei Xiang looks on.
“Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji continues to explore and take on new challenges – like climbing up the rockwork in the indoor habitat he shares with mother Mei Xiang,” the accompanying caption said.
“He’s getting stronger, more coordinated and is still an adorable little nugget,” it said.
Within a day of being posted the video had been viewed nearly 100,000 times, and attracted more than 20,000 likes and scores of comments.
“It’s amazing how he’s grown! And mama is still right there to love him and guide him. Such a wonderful story!” said one Instagram user.
“This is by far the best thing to come out of 2020!” said another.
“Xiao Qi Ji!!! Our little champion!!!” said a third.
The cub was born on August 21 to Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian, both of which have been in the United States on loan from China since 2000. His birth was live-streamed and people around the world have been following his progress ever since.
Although the zoo is currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, it announced last month that it had extended its agreement with the China Wildlife and Conservation Association to keep the giant panda family in Washington until December 2023.
Xiao Qi Ji is the fourth surviving cub to have been born at the National Zoo, which has hosted giant pandas from China since 1972.
The bears, which are regarded as a national treasure in China, are native to southern and central parts of the country. There are an estimated 1,800 alive in the wild, mostly in Sichuan province, and about 600 living in zoos and breeding centres around the world.