We have clearance! The San Diego Zoo's pudgy giant panda cub can now push up on all four legs without his tummy touching the floor, and he's getting closer and closer to walking.
"His belly is clearing the ground. And he's starting to move and follow wherever his front legs go with his back legs," said Tracy Clippinger, a senior veterinarian at the zoo. "So he's beyond crawling but not all the way walking right now."
Vets checked out his heart, lungs and stomach during the cub's 11th exam on Thursday (Nov. 1). Clippinger noted that she saw his first tooth, on the upper left side of his mouth, and also said he's gained some weight.
"He has nice fat stores over his spine, and his belly is good and full. He's doing great," Clippinger said in a video from the zoo.
The cub, born July 29, will not be named until he is 100 days old in keeping with a Chinese panda-naming tradition. A recently closed public vote will decide on one of six suggested names for the panda: Qi Ji (Miracle), Yu Di (Raindrop), Da Hai (Big Ocean or Big Sea), Xiao Liwu (Little Gift), Yong Er (Brave Son) or Shui Long (Water Dragon).
The zoo will announce the winning name in a ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
The cub was born to Bai Yun (White Cloud), the panda mom that has given birth to five other cubs at the San Diego Zoo. Four of those offspring were moved to China to join the country's giant panda conservation and breeding program. The previous cub born to Bai Yun was a male named Yun Zi (Son of Cloud). He remains in San Diego and celebrated his third birthday in August.
Researchers estimate only 1,600 giant pandas are left in the wild, and scientists maintain that captive breeding is an important way for them to study and conserve the endangered species.