Washington DC zoo's panda cub wows crowd

WASHINGTON DC (REUTERS) - Bei Bei the four-month old giant panda cub, kept hard-nosed journalists in Washington DC captive as he made his media debut at the National Zoo on Wednesday. The cub was born in August to the zoo's Mei Xiang, one of the top tourist draws in the US capital.

At 7.93kg, Bei Bei is larger than both his older siblings Bao Bao and Tai Shan when they were at the same age.

Sometimes frisky, Bei Bei appeared unsure with his sudden fame, preferring to huddle in a bamboo-lined hole in the enclosure, but zoo officials said the little cub was more active than his siblings, often crawling and exploring his surroundings.

"At four months old he's strong, he's growing, he's had his vaccines, he's doing really well and so we are celebrating this time for him and also we are excited to share him with the public," said Dr Brandie Smith, Associate Director of Animal Care at the zoo.

A second cub born with Bei Bei died shortly after birth. They were sired by Tian Tian, the zoo's male giant panda, using artificial insemination.

Their birth captured international attention since giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species.

Giant pandas are native to China and have a very low reproductive rate, especially in captivity. There are about 300 giant pandas in captivity and some 1,600 in the wild.