Panda Cub Starts to See at San Diego Zoo

The cub’s eyes are now about 75 percent open, zookeepers said. (Image credit: San Diego Zoo)

The San Diego Zoo’s newest panda cub got another checkup today and his vets report that he's growing well, especially around the waist, and is just starting to see.

"The cub weighed 4.9 pounds this morning and veterinarians noted that his eyes are almost open now and believe the cub has some vision but it is likely limited to light and shadows," the zoo announced in a statement Thursday (Sept. 20). "His chest now measures 12.5 inches and his well-fed belly is 14.5 inches around."

In a video of the exam, the furball doesn't make much noise while his doctors measure him and check out his eyes and ears. But he does yawn and kick his leg out repeatedly, in an apparent (and adorable) reflex to being scratched behind the ear.

The newborn is the sixth giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo to mother Bai Yun, who has started bringing the tiny cub out of their den into an attached room while she eats bamboo, zoo officials said.

The cub was born on July 29 but will not be named until he is 100 days old, following a Chinese panda-naming tradition. The zoo is taking submissions for the cub's name through Monday, Sept. 24, on its website:

Only an estimated 1,600 giant pandas are left in the wild and scientists say captive breeding is an important way for them to study and conserve the endangered species.

Live Science Staff
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