The anticipation is almost too much to bear.
The San Diego Zoo’s giant panda cub will finally make his debut to the public on Thursday after a 5-month-long wait, the zoo announced.
On Wednesday, members of the press were given a sneak peek of Xiao Liwu as he played in the public enclosure. He could be seen rummaging through bushes, climbing trees and snacking on treats scattered throughout the enclosure, alongside his mother, Bai Yun, as seen below.
Though visitors to the zoo haven't been able to see him yet, his life is far from private. Animal-lovers around the world have watched him grow via the zoo's "Panda Cam" from a tiny bean-shaped speck resting on his mother to a rambunctious fluff ball crawling away from veterinarians at his routine exams.
"The Panda Team feels our 5-month-old cub has become confident enough to navigate around this large habitat while being admired by his adoring fans," said the zoo's blog moderator Debbie Andreen in post Monday.
Zookeepers say Xiao Liwu is growing normally and showing more movement and activity than in past weeks. At his last exam, started venturing outside and showing more interest in his surroundings.
On Thursday, the first dedicated viewers will be able to see him in the north exhibit. However, the exhibit will only be open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. for the first few weeks so that Xiao Liwu can get used to his new life in the spotlight.
Also, since Xiao Liwu likes to hang out in the zoo's moat, he may not be entirely visible in those hours.
For more on the exhibit and other animals at the zoo, click here.