Baby Panda Visits

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He's ready for his close-up, weighing in at 21 pounds. At four and a half months old he is Washington's newest native son, Tai Shan, a baby giant panda.

Tuesday morning, reporters got their first good look at the little guy. His mom, Mei Xiang, was out for her morning stroll, leaving him to explore his surroundings.

Lisa Stevens said, "He's learning how to perfect the art of climbing. Going up is really great. Coming down is still a little bit difficult."

Starting December 8, panda fans will get their first look at the baby boy. The zoo gave out 13,000 free tickets to view Tai Shan, and they were gone in just two hours.

He's getting used to the National Zoo's panda house, but it won't be his home for good. Tai Shan will move to China when he hits the ripe old age of two, as part of a panda breeding and conservation effort

Lisa Stevens, the assistant curator for pandas, adds, "He's part of a big program and we are doing everything that we can do support that program."

But before he packs his bags, Tai Shan has two missions: helping veterinarians learn all they can about baby pandas and delighting some of the 17 million people who have watched him since day one through the zoo's Web cams.