News & Politics

Our Favorite Bei Bei Moments

Can you make falling out of trees look this precious?

Photo Credit: Skip Brown, Smithsonian's National Zoo

We can deny it no longer: the eve of Bei Bei’s departure is upon us. With the giant panda cub heading to the Bifengxia Panda Base via the Panda Express tomorrow, let’s take a look at some of his finest moments.

August 22, 2015 – A Star Is Born

Giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to two cubs at the National Zoo. Sadly, the smaller of the two died a few days later. A month later, the surviving cub was given the name Bei Bei – meaning “precious, treasure” – by Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan.

September 25, 2015 – Bei Bei Sneezes

What a mighty sneeze from a very tiny panda cub. Can we get a slo-mo instant replay?

November 9, 2015 – Bei Bei Takes His First Steps

Bei Bei hit a toddler milestone – even if it was more of a wiggle than a walk. We give him a B- for execution and an A+ for effort.

December 16, 2015 – Bei Bei Is Ready For His Close-Up

At long last, Bei Bei made his media debut at four months old in front of a swath of reporters and photographers. Bad news: he fell asleep during the scrum. Good news: sleeping baby pandas are very cute.

August 20, 2016 – It’s My Party, I’ll Nap If I Want To

In honor of Bei Bei’s first birthday, the National Zoo planned an elaborate series of celebrations for the cub. They held a test run to ensure the event was executed to perfection. Bei Bei – a true rebel without a cause – had other plans. He out in his indoor pen ahead of the ceremony.

Luckily, mother panda Mei Xiang rose to the occasion, munching on Bei Bei’s 100-pound frozen birthday “cake” (made of flavored ice, sweet potatoes, and other treats) and choosing the symbol of luck and friendship for the cub in a traditional Zhuazhou ceremony.

Giant panda Mei Xiang selects the Zhuazhou symbolizing luck and friendship on behalf of Bei Bei. Photo credit: Adam Mason, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

January 22, 2016 – Area Bear Doesn’t Know What Snow Is

DC was hit with an inconvenient snowstorm in the winter of 2016, but not every Washingtonian was upset about it. Young Bei Bei was reportedly wonderstruck by the light dusting of snow in his enclosure.

Baby panda Bei Bei in the snow at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.
Bei Bei in 2016. Photograph by Shellie Pick via National Zoo.

July 2017–May 2018 – Bei Bei Takes a Tumble – Or Two

Bei Bei fell out of trees…a lot.

Somehow, this Beltway supernova even made falling out of a tree look adorable. Plus, the young panda taught us a valuable lesson: you can always pick yourself up after failure.

Though our hearts cry out for “four more years!” it is time to say goodbye to Bei Bei. We’ll miss you, sweet prince.

Editorial Fellow

Madeline Rundlett is an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She previously covered All-Met sports for the Washington Post and was an editorial intern at The Hill. Madeline graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Communication in 2019.