A panda respite

I don’t know how she knew that this was the right time, but Mei Xiang, one of the gorgeous Giant Pandas at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., gave birth in August. Thank you Mei Xiang! A brand new panda cub is exactly the right antidote to this time of unending challenge. Before we go any further, you need to know about the panda cam hosted by the National Zoo:


What I see on the panda cam right this instant is Mei Xiang snuggling and licking her little angel. Here is a screenshot I just took of the two of them:

Mei Xiang and her sweet little baby

The panda cam has to be the least expensive pick-me-up out there right now; as long as you have bandwidth, you can treat yourself to this.

This new panda cub, Mei Xiang’s seventh overall, is the first since Bei Bei was born in 2015. I can’t exactly recall what was going on in 2015 to prompt this but I was ADDICTED to the panda cam and watched Mei Xiang being a mama and Bei Bei’s development daily (hourly?) – I was on there all the time. 

In early 2016 I traveled to Bethesda to visit colleagues at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, with whom I was collaborating on research related to sickle cell trait. I remember being so excited to share our findings AND – possibly – to have the opportunity of seeing Bei Bei in person at the National Zoo. My time to do so was really tight, however; I had to make it all happen and be back at USUHS by 9am. When I let my collaborators know this dream of mine, everyone brainstormed the night before to help me figure out how it could work. One collaborator gave me her subway card, another figured out subway times, and a third scientist I had just met there walked me through maps of DC, etc.

That morning, I remember running from the subway stop, through the zoo, which had just opened, and finally making it, out of breath, to the Giant Panda exhibit, which was beautiful and quiet. There they were! Here is a picture I took of Mei Xiang and Bei Bei:

Mei Xiang and Bei Bei in 2016

As I stood and watched, I was joined by another woman who was also, clearly, drinking this mom/baby pair in. “I’ve watched this baby his whole life on the panda cam.” she said.

And here we are again, with a new cub to coo over and to distract us, just when we really needed it.

Published by Lianne Kurina

I am an epidemiologist, the proud director of the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University, and a very keen horsewoman.

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