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Panda cub makes debut at San Diego Zoo

January 10, 2013 |  9:10 am

The day is cool and overcast in San Diego but to panda fans -- and they are multitude -- it couldn't be warmer or sunnier.

Xiao Liwu, born five months ago, is set to make his public debut Thursday at the San Diego Zoo, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., before returning backstage at the panda grotto with his mother, Bai Yun.

Panda keepers have been waiting for Bai Yun to give signs that the cub was ready to go public. Those signs are now evident.

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On Wednesday, Xiao Liwu went outside by himself, climbing through bamboo and exploring the enclosure's trees, moat and rocks.

Even now that Xiao Liwu is going public, keepers will be limiting his time on display to two hours a day until he shows more maturity and comfort with zoo patrons and their cameras. Being a charismatic mega-vertebrate can be stressful, after all.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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