Washington, D.C.'s beloved (and only) panda cub Bao Bao got to enjoy her first ever taste of snow as the United State's capital was blanketed for the first time this winter season on January 6th.
While Bao Bao's home, the Smithsonian's National Zoo, had to close to the public during the snow, zoo officials released this adorable video of the panda cub tumbling down the snowy slope of her enclosure and pouncing on her mother, Mei Xiang.
Bao Bao was born at the zoo in August 2013, but was kept indoors for winter 2013/14 and only just went on display to the public in January, effectively making this Bao Bao's first taste of snow. Wild giant pandas have their occasional encounters with snow in China's temperate mountain forests, so Bao Bao is well equipped for the weather. Some of the other three zoos that host giant pandas even created artificial snow so that their giant pandas in captivity can feel more like they are in their natural landscape even in warmer locales. In one such incident, the San Diego Zoo brought in more than 15 tons of shaved ice into their panda enclosure as a treat for their less-than-a-year old cub Xiao Liwu in 2013.
While Bao Bao and other pandas in captivity enjoy their snow day in captivity, only 1,600 pandas are left to enjoy the cold treat in the wild, with several hundred more kept in captivity to preserve the species (most being kept in China).
Zoos around the world breed pandas as a way to study and learn how to better conserve the bears. However, males and females rarely mate naturally in captivity. Bao Bao was born from artificial insemination from the National Zoo's resident male Tian Tian. Bao Bao is the long awaited cub following Mei Xiang and Tian Tian's only surviving cub Tai Shan who was born in 2005, but was moved to China in 2010. Bao Bao is currently scheduled to join her brother in China when she reaches four years of age.