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Bao Bao will greet her adoring public this weekend

Bao Bao naps after a busy morning of play today.

Bao Bao naps after a busy morning of play today.

UPDATE: Smithsonian officials just provided an update on the soon-to-meet-her-public panda. This information could prove useful for people hoping to see her this weekend.

“Bao Bao is proving to be most active in the early mornings and in the mid afteroon. Today she and Mei Xiang enjoyed an extended play session inside the panda house. Bao Bao pounced on Mei’s head several times and even wresteled with a stalk of bamboo. All the excitement wore her out, and she was sound asleep in the den about an hour later.”

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Bao Bao met the media on Jan. 6 and will be available for public to see starting on Saturday. (Photo by Abby Wood, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

Bao Bao greeted the media on Jan. 6 and will be available for the public to see starting on Saturday. (Photo by Abby Wood, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

The moment you’ve been waiting for is just three days away. That adorable giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is going public this weekend.

The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat will open its doors from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday through Monday. (Monday is  a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)

Below are the full details from zoo officials.

Extended Hours at National Zoo’s Giant Panda Habitat This Weekend; Instagram event launched

Giant panda cub Bao Bao will step out from behind the panda cams and meet the public this weekend at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Visitors to the Zoo will have the opportunity to see Bao Bao starting Saturday at 8 a.m. The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat will open its doors to the general public (members of Friends of the National Zoo have been receiving a preview from last Saturday thr0ugh this Friday) for the first time since the Zoo’s panda team began a pregnancy watch for Bao Bao’s mother, Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), last July.

The panda house will extend its hours in an attempt to accommodate the visitors expected to come see Bao Bao. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Saturday through Monday, and visitors will be allowed into the house in small groups to avoid overcrowding on a first-come-first-served basis.

Bao Bao and Mei Xiang will have access to the den during those times, and may choose to spend time in it instead of on exhibit. Beginning Tuesday,  the panda house will open to FONZ members only from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  before the panda house opens to the general public at 10 a.m.

The amount of time Bao Bao and her mother Mei Xiang will be on exhibit each day will depend on the bears’ behavior. As time passes, Bao Bao is expected to be more visible in her enclosure.

Asia Trail, where the panda habitat is located, will follow a one-way traffic pattern. Visitors can enter Asia Trail directly across from the Visitor’s Center, which is located near the Connecticut Avenue pedestrian entrance. The line for giant panda cub viewing will form in front of the outdoor panda yards. Visitors will exit Asia Trail onto Olmsted Walk, across from the Panda Plaza food court and gift shop.

Today, the National Zoo launched its Instagram account, @SmithsonianZoo, with an animal “selfie” video of Bao Bao. To commemorate Bao Bao’s public debut, 30 lucky Instagrammers who follow @SmithsonianZoo on Instagram will be given special early access to the panda house to see Bao Bao on Saturday, Feb. 1, for an InstaMeet or “#ZooMeet.”

The 30 participants will be chosen from Instagrammers who register for the InstaMeet and will have half an hour to view and take photos of Bao Bao before the panda house opens to the public. Members of the panda team will also be available to answer questions.

Registration for the InstaMeet is now open. Instagrammers chosen to attend the special opportunity will be notified by Jan. 27. They will be sharing their photos Feb. 1, using #ZooMeet and #Panda. Additional information on the Instameet and registration is posted to the Zoo’s website.

The Zoo will provides updates about Bao Bao through Facebook, Twitter and the Giant Panda Update e-newsletter. Bao Bao will continue to be visible on the Zoo’s panda cams, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund before and after her public debut. The panda cams have received more than 9.5 million views since Bao Bao’s birth on Aug. 23.

 

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