Life at the zoo can be a ball, literally.
The belle of the ball at the San Diego Zoo on Thursday was Xiao Liwu, the newest addition to the zoo’s panda family, who was captured on camera enjoying a slew of new toys, including a plastic ball.
“He was really enjoying hugging it, rolling on it and doing those kinds of rolly, tumbling things that panda cubs are so notoriously cute for doing,” veterinarian Beth Bicknese said in a video on the zoo’s website.
The ball wasn’t all fun and games for Xiao Liwu, however, as it was used, along with a stick of bamboo and a plastic ring shaped like a doughnut, at his most recent checkup to test his coordination, growth and development.
The good news? Xiao Liwu, who was born at the zoo in July, passed his exam – comprised of 10 to 15 measurements, according to the zoo – with flying colors.
‘Everything looks good he’s still a little on the smaller side but overall he’s in good body condition, everything’s growing, his teeth are coming in,’ Meg Sutherland-Smith, the zoo’s associate director of veterinary services, said after the exam.
Xiao Liwu, whose name, which means “little gift,” was chosen in an online poll, weighed just four pounds when he became the sixth panda cub born at the zoo under a 12-year agreement with China that included the loan of two giant pandas. At his exam on Thursday, his 19th since his birth, the 20-week-old cub weighed in at 14.5 pounds.
Zoo officials are waiting to put Xiao Liwu on public display at the zoo until he develops the “bear behavior” of following his mother and being a better climber, according to Bicknese.
Until then, Xiao Liwu’s fans can still keep track of the playful cub online with the zoo’s panda cam, a live stream that has documented the cub’s nearly every movement since his birth.
To watch the baby panda’s latest veterinary exam, click here.