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A panda mother and her cub explore the forest.


Getting Stronger A baby panda needs a lot of care. It’s fragile,


tiny, and helpless. Without fur, the cub needs to stay warm. T e panda mother warms her cub by holding him close. For weeks, mother and cub stay in the den.


T e cub grows fur. By now, the cub is 10 times the size he was at birth. His eyes have opened. Soon it’s time to leave the den and explore. T e cub is still too young to crawl very far


on his own. His mother uses her teeth to hold him by the back of the neck. It doesn’t hurt the cub. For now, this is how they travel. When the mother panda stops to eat, she holds her cub in one paw. T en she shovels bamboo into her mouth with her other paw. T e cub watches his mother eat. He plays


with his mother’s food. T e cub bats bamboo leaves with his paws and pretends to chew on the stems. T is feels like a game to the cub, but he’s


learning from his mother how to find bamboo and how to eat it. In a few months, the cub will start eating bamboo, too.


20 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


Stepping Out Months go by. T e panda cub is almost a year


old now. He is almost the same size as his mother and eats about the same amount of bamboo as she does. T e cub wanders away from his mother


during the day. He’s off exploring the forest. Sometimes he stays alone in the forest at night, too. T e cub is learning how to live on his own just like adult giant pandas. T ey spend most of their lives alone. Like other giant pandas, the cub walks on


all four feet. He tucks his head down below his shoulders. His face is low to the ground. He walks slowly on his short legs, ducking low branches as he goes. T e cub’s mother has taught him well.


Before long, the cub finds a clearing in the thick forest. As he pushes through, he sees what he’s been looking for—a new patch of bamboo. A mule deer is grazing on shrubs nearby.


T e panda and the deer ignore each other. T e panda sits down and pulls a stalk of bamboo from the ground and begins chewing.


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