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Want to Meet the Zoo’s New Baby Panda? You’ll Need a Special Pass

When the Zoo reopens on May 21, visits with Xiao Qi Ji will be limited. Don't worry, there are a bunch of other new animals to see.

Xiao Qi Ji is almost ready for visitors. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo

The National Zoo is reopening next Friday, May 21, after nearly six months, which means you can finally see baby giant panda Xiao Qi Ji in real life. So long as you score a reservation, that is.

All visits to the Zoo will require a timed entry pass. Reservations for passes open this Friday morning at 12:30 PM. But for the panda exhibit, there are special, additional reservations. “Due to safety procedures,” the Zoo says in a statement, “access to the giant panda exhibit is extremely limited to 620 guests per day, and visitors are asked to limit their giant panda viewing to 15 minutes.” You have to try for the panda pass on site, the day you visit.

Here’s a rundown of all the new animals you’ll be able to see once the Zoo reopens.

Xiao Qi Ji the Giant Panda Cub 

Baby Xiao Qi Ji is almost ready for visitors. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo

The eight-month-old giant panda cub was welcomed into the Smithsonian family on August 21, 2020. His favorite treat is diluted honey water, and he loves to play with his mom, Mei Xiang.

Mitas the Amur tiger

An Amur tiger. Creative Commons photo by Flickr user Tambako The Jaguar

Not much is known about Mitas, but he is the third Amur tiger to arrive at the Zoo. He joins other Amur tigers Nikita and Paval in the Great Cats exhibit.

Barbie and Cooper, the Przewalski’s horse mother-son duo

This is Cooper. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Barbie and Cooper arrived at the Zoo in December 2020 and are still getting used to their new environment. The mother and son enjoy running together and lying down in their favorite resting spot.

Onyx the Komodo dragon

This is Onyx. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Onyx also moved into his new home in December 2020. Nicknamed “Junior,” he has become known for his resemblance to the Zoo’s older Komodo dragon, Murphy. Onyx is the first young Komodo dragon that the Zoo has held in more than two decades.

Brienne the Andean bear

This is Brienne. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Brienne reunited with her grandmother Billie Jean at the Smithsonian in September 2020. The daring Andean bear loves running along the rocks in her habitat and taking naps in the tree canopy.

Lucy and Gally the American bison

This is Lucy. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

The bison friends arrived in March 2020. Kind of like sisters, Lucy and Gally have differing personalities but love playing together.

Charger the California sea lion

This is Charger. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.


Charger is the newest addition to the Zoo’s sea lion crew. He enjoys playing around Celia, another sea lion pup, and her mother, Calli.

Poplar the North American beaver

This is Poplar. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Nicknamed “Poppy,” and a buddy of existing resident beavers Aspen and Chipper, the busy North American beaver loves to get up early and explore her new habitat.

An un-named wallaby joey 

This the wallaby joey and his mom, Victoria. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

It is believed that the new joey was born in August 2019, shortly before its father, Sydney, passed away. When he (or she) isn’t tucked away in mama’s pouch, the little guy (or gal) enjoys playing with the rest of the mob.

An un-named lesser kudu calf

The lesser kudu calf. Photo courtesy of the National Zoo.

Not much is known about the lesser kudu calf that was born on March 28, but the calf is currently adjusting to his new environment with his parents, Rogue (7) and Garrett (10), and his older brothers, Kushukuru and Toba, born in 2019.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that reservations for timed entry passes opened 12:01 AM on May 14, instead of  12:30 PM on May 14.

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.