Bei Bei and me: At nine years old, Rebecca Hale fell in love with pandas on a trip to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Three decades later, as a mom and a photographer for Nat Geo in Washington, pandas had become just another local tourist attraction. Then she was assigned to cover the newborn Bei Bei, documenting his development over a year from a pliant cub to a curious, energetic youth. “My nine-year-old self would have thought that was pretty cool,” Hale writes in the latest edition of National Geographic. Pictured above, Bei Bei enjoys cuddling with his keepers. Marty Daurie knows just where to scratch his belly.
Subscriber exclusive: Popsicles and belly rubs: The joys of watching a panda grow up
(For more about Bei Bei and the giant pandas see: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/09/popsicles-and-belly-rubs-the-joys-of-watching-panda-bei-bei-grow-up/)