WASHINGTON — The National Zoo’s panda cub Bao Bao turned 18 months old Monday and neared a major milestone.

Eighteen months is the age 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, and is eating significantly more bamboo and other solid foods. Bao Bao spends about six hours each day apart from her mother, Mei Xiang. She also eats separately from her mother.

The zoo’s panda team expects the weaning process will be finished in early March, and that Bao Bao can begin living on her own.

Bao Bao was born Aug. 23, 2013 at The National Zoo. She’s only the second panda born at the zoo to survive to her first birthday.

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