WASHINGTON — Giant panda cub Bao Bao was roused from slumber and carried before an adoring public Saturday, and within minutes had curled into a ball in the corner, fast sleep.
No matter to the delighted crowds, who started arriving before dawn to spend 10 or 15 minutes inside the giant panda house at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The visitors, admitted a few dozen at a time, were atingle with oohs and ahs even when Bao Bao (bow-bow) wasn't doing much beyond breathing.
"It's better than the royals having a baby," exclaimed Zach Clark, 28, a District of Columbia resident, as he and visiting friends exited the panda house after seeing Washington's newest celebrity.
Although members of Friends of the National Zoo have been given preview peeks, Saturday offered the public at large its first chance to see the 18 1/2-pound panda in person, instead of via the zoo's panda cam. The zoo has extended hours through Monday to accommodate the 10,000 people expected to pass through the giant panda house over the holiday weekend.
Panda cubs sleep a lot, typically 20 hours a day. Visitors are told not to expect to see much action.