Hua Mei Steps Out into the Big World
Hua Mei seemed pretty content to stay in the warm and familiar den, but Bai Yun had other ideas. On November 24, 1999, Bai Yun picked the cub up by the scruff of her neck, carried her outside, and plunked her down on the ground. Hua Mei apparently didn’t know what to make of that weird stuff under her feet—she kept lifting them up slowly with bewilderment. It didn’t last long, though—Bai Yun was back in a couple of minutes, and took Hua Mei back into the den. But her curiosity had been piqued, and Hua Mei began spending more time at the den door peering out, and sometimes stepping out. On January 14, 2000, she and Bai Yun went out into the big exhibit for the first time, and Hua Mei began a new world of discoveries. By February, she had splashed in water, climbed trees (and taken a few tumbles, a cause of great concern to Panda Cam watchers—fortunately, panda cubs bounce), and been introduced to her legion of fans, who lined up in droves to see her for the first time on February 11, 2000.