Bao Bao, National Zoo's Giant Panda Cub, Meets Her Adoring Public

Extended hours for the panda house: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Every time we think the National Zoo's beyond-adorable panda cub, Bao Bao, couldn't get any cuter, she proves us wrong. Fortunately, you don't have to wait any longer to see her in person.

The almost-five-month-old cub went on display to her adoring public for the first time Saturday morning, and the National Zoo is prepping for big crowds. They've extended hours for the panda house, which will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Why do people come to see Bao Bao?

Starting Tuesday, the panda house's hours will be 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Friends of the National Zoo will be able to make special appointments to see her before 10 a.m.)

Visitors will be allowed into the building in small groups to avoid overcrowding, zoo officials said.

Bao Bao may be visible inside or outside, depending on the day, curators said. The amount of time she and her mom, Mei Xiang, will be on view will depend on their behavior each day.

They'll also have access to a private den if they choose to hide out from the paparazzi.

Bao Bao should be socially savvy already -- she spent a morning with the media rock-climbing and following her mom. She's turned out to be a calm and relaxed panda cub, more subdued than older brother Tai Shan, curators said.


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"Tai Shan was a little more vocal when we did things like weigh him, where she seems kind of relaxed about it," Smith said. "She's like her dad. Tian Tian is very relaxed and kind of goes with the flow. So I'm thinking she got that from him."

Born by surprise Aug. 23, Bao Bao first weighed in at just 4.8 ounces. She's done a lot since then: meeting Hugh Jackman, having a naming ceremony that featured video tributes from two nations' first ladies, and famously squealing her way through a vet visit.

Bao Bao's also been spending more time exploring her surroundings lately, and keepers are working on training her and are offering her a variety of enrichment items.

"She's gone from kind of crawling to walking, and she's so playful, so energetic," Smith said. "She's such a great little girl."

Are you planning to see Bao Bao when she makes her public debut? Share your experiences and photos with us on Twitter @nbcwashington using the hashtag #baobao!

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