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Adorable Bear to Meet Public in January

Photograph courtesy National Zoo.

Bei Bei, the National Zoo’s giant panda cub who even the most hardened panda-skeptics find to be pretty great, will make his public debut in January, the Smithsonian announced Tuesday.

The panda house, which has been closed since Bei Bei’s birth on August 22, will re-open to all zoo visitors on January 16. Members of Friends of the National Zoo will be allowed to see the cub starting January 9. And if you happen to be a global celebrity—say, the star of a comic-book-adaptation series—you might be able to meet Bei Bei even earlier than that.

Until January 16, Bei Bei can still only be seen on the panda cam, scooting around the habitat and perfecting his newfound walking abilities. The cub also continues to grow—he weighed in this week at 12.5 pounds with a robust coat of black-and-white fur, quite a transformation from the splotchy pink blob he resembled at birth.

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Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.