Feb 21, 1:56 PM EST

Panda cub Bao Bao approaches milestone of living separately

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Giant panda cub Bao Bao (bow-bow) is nearing a major milestone at the National Zoo and will soon begin living separately from her mother.

On Monday, Bao Bao will be 18 months old. That's the age when panda cubs stop nursing and start living separately from their mothers.

The zoo says Bao Bao began the weaning process naturally a few months ago. She is now eating significantly more bamboo and other solid foods. Bao Bao eats separately from her mother and spends about six hours each day separated from her mother.

The zoo's panda team expects the weaning process will be complete in early March, and Bao Bao will be living on her own.

Zoo veterinarians also say panda mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) is in good health.

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