News & Politics

Attention: The Zoo’s Panda Cub Is Learning New Tricks and Is a Very, Very Good Boy

In-person school has been awesome for Xiao Qi Ji.

Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo.

We have some excellent news for you this Monday morning: The National Zoo’s baby panda cub is killing his husbandry training. Oh, and he’s still the very best good boy.

Ten-month-old Xiao Qi Ji can now stand up on his hind legs when directed by a zookeeper. And because he is perfect, he mastered this new skill on the second try. Yes, we are very proud of our favorite fluffy boy, but learning this behavior is also important for Xiao Qi Ji’s future healthcare: Standing on his hind legs allows zookeepers to inspect the panda’s belly and legs for any abnormalities or issues that may need medical attention.

Being a very smart boy and learning all the new tricks. Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo.

This is all part of Xiao Qi Ji’s husbandry training, and the zoo has already been working with the panda to teach him to follow a target, aka a ball on the end of a stick. When he follows the stick and bumps his nose against the ball on the end, he gets a bite of a sweet potato, pear, or apple as a reward because, like us, he is food motivated.

When he’s not busy being the very best and smartest and fluffiest boy of all time, Xiao Qi Ji has been living his best life and eating frozen fruitsicles. All hail our perfect fuzzy king!

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.