Born to mother Mei Xiang on August 22, 2015, Bei Bei is part of a program known as panda diplomacy, a cultural exchange practice dating back more than a thousand years in which the Chinese government extends giant pandas as diplomatic gifts.
Panda Cub Bei Bei Grows Up (Photos)
The United States government pays approximately $500,000 each year to host China's iconic giant pandas in the Smithsonian, money which is then funneled back into panda research and conservation efforts in China.
The current Sino-American agreement was instituted at the turn of the millennium; once it expires, the pandas will return to China.
Article first appeared on Discovery's blog Dscovrd.