Meet Bei Bei: The National Zoo's newest star

Story highlights

  • Panda cub Bei Bei is set to make his first public appearance January 16.
  • He lives at the National Zoo in Washington with his mother, Mei Xiang, and sister, Bao Bao

Washington (CNN)Pandamonium is set to hit Washington's National Zoo, as panda cub Bei Bei will make his first public appearance January 16. Panda lovers everywhere have long anticipated this moment.

Bei Bei -- pronounced "bay bay" -- made his media debut Wednesday, as pictures of the 17.5 pound, four-month-old cub were released to the media. Since his birth in August, Bei Bei was kept out of the public eye until he is strong enough to walk and could only be seen on the Panda cam.
Bei Bei lives at the zoo with his mother, giant panda Mei Xiang, and his big sister, Bao Bao, who is about two years old. Bei Bei is a surviving twin, as the other baby panda died a few days after birth.
    Panda are an endangered species and according to the World Wildlife Fund, "severe threats from humans have left just over 1,800 pandas in the wild."
    The celebrated cub was named by first lady Michelle Obama and China's first lady Peng Liyuan during a trip to the zoo in September and his given name "Bei Bei" means "precious treasure," according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo. It's the male version of sister Bao Bao's name.
    The first ladies traveled to the Panda House "to commemorate over four decades of scientific collaboration between the United States and China around giant panda conservation," the White House said in a statement.