Zoo Atlanta's giant panda cub made her media debut Friday before a crowd of reporters and a phalanx of TV cameras.
The 16-pound (7.2-kilogram) cub, Mei Lan, romped about the indoor area of the panda exhibit while her mother, Lun Lun, ate stalks of bamboo.
Mei Lan and her mother have been in seclusion since the cub's Sept. 6 birth. Panda fans have been keeping up with the duo on the zoo's panda cam on the Internet or through live video feeds on monitors at the zoo's panda exhibit.
Friday's unveiling marked the beginning of the zoo's plan for limited public viewings of Mei Lan and Lun Lun.
The zoo expects a sharp increase in attendance following Mei Lan's debut. On peak days, it could see upward of 13,000 visitors, compared with the typical 3,500, said Cary Burgess, senior vice president of operations, reports AP.
The zoo has hired 12 part-timers to work as guides at the panda exhibit. The gift shop has been stocked with stuffed baby pandas, panda cub coffee mugs, panda cub key chains and T-shirts.
Mei Lan is the only giant panda cub born at a U.S. zoo in 2006, and the fifth in the past six years. Officials say her name is Chinese for "Atlanta Beauty."
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