Grab some earplugs—you're gonna need 'em.
Since Mei Xiang gave birth almost a week ago, the National Zoo's been documenting the mom and her cub as they bond together in their enclosure. Among the videos posted on Instagram is a first look at the baby cub, and let's just say it's here, and it wants you to know about it.
The moment was captured on Thursday, day 6 of the zoo's series #PandaStory. The mother got up for the first time in six days to fetch a drink of water, leaving the baby alone for a moment. From there, it announced its presence to the world ... with a deafening screech.
Ever see the David Lynch movie Eraserhead? The way it screams into the void isn't unlike the film's grotesque infant, though obviously, the baby panda is way cuter, and also not an alien creature (thankfully).
Mei Xiang got up at two separate times—at 4:27 a.m. and 5:59 a.m. Considering she hadn't left her baby's side in six days, we can't blame her for wanting to snag a quick break. The newborn makes that infernal sound until towards the end of the video, where Mama returns to nestle her baby. Order was eventually restored, but that scream has been burned into our collective psyches.
According to the zoo, pandas inhabit small dens, where they typically remain for the first 100 days of a baby's development. Pandas naturally build their own dens in the wild, which explains Mei Xiang's use of bamboo as makeshift bedding.
So when will we know more about the little one? Currently, its sex is unknown, but zookeepers will wait to examine the newborn until Mei Xiang is more comfortable leaving the den. It's normal for the zoo to hold off on identifying info, including picking out a name, until at least 100 days have passed. This is reminiscent of the Chinese tradition to wait 100 days to name human infants.
The last few days have shown tender moments shared between mother and baby, from cuddle seshes to nursing. Considering yesterday was patriarch Tian Tian's 23rd birthday, it seemed like a good occasion for the little one to officially introduce itself. We look forward to seeing its growth!
For more candid cub moments, check out the zoo's Instagram and website.
What do you think of the baby's debut? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!