The National Zoo's two-month-old panda cub, Bei Bei, is out and about -- well, out of the den at least.
Bei Bei's mother, Mei Xiang, brought her youngest cub outside the den earlier than she did with either of her two older cubs, according to an update Wednesday from the National Zoo.
Back in 2005, Mei brought her oldest cub, Tai Shan, out of the den when he was about three and a half months old. Bao Bao, Mei Xiang's middle cub, was moved from the den for the first time about two and a half months after she was born in 2013.
Now, the National Zoo reports that Bei Bei was brought out of the den by his mother at only a month and a half old.
Like any experienced mother on her second or third child, Mei Xiang feels comfortable pushing the milestones a bit earlier with each of her cubs, said keeper Nicole MacCorkle.
"Every giant panda is an individual, and other females may choose to do things at a different pace from Mei," said MacCorkle in an update released by the National Zoo. "However, she has proven her competence as a mother over and over again, so we let her lead us in the best way to manage her cubs."
The National Zoo also wanted to inform panda-cam viewers that Mei Xiang is gentle and cautious when moving Bei Bei in and out of the den.
"It is difficult to comprehend how a mother panda's jaws, which are able to crush a piece of bamboo with ease, can also be extremely gentle when picking up a cub, but they really are," MacCorkle said. "Mei Xiang is a skilled panda mother, and like other panda mothers, she picks up Bei Bei in her mouth, but doesn't use her teeth."
Panda cubs are sturdy creatures and Mei Xiang may appear less than graceful when trying to move around Bei Bei because he is bigger than his older siblings were at his age, the zoo said.
He weighed in at 8.79 pounds Monday. Just four days earlier, he'd weighed 7.74 pounds, and the zoo said Tai Shan was nearly a pound less at that age.
Bei Bei is also starting to get teeth, the zoo posted on Facebook Tuesday. "His upper and lower incisors are starting to come in, and his upper right canine is just starting to peek through," the zoo posted.