LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, for the first time on TV, we see the photos of probably the most famous baby in the world today. And we meet the editor who spent hours with this baby’s famous parents. What was that like? What were they like?
It’s all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
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KING: Good evening. We’re here with our special guest — Neil Kramer, the features editor of Citizen of the Month. He’s in Los Angeles, having spent an enormous amount of time admiring, observing, and photographing Su Lin, the new baby panda cub at the San Diego Zoo, as well as spending time with her well-known parents, Bai Yum and Gao Gao. How did you get this unique opportunity?
NEIL KRAMER, EDITOR OF CITIZEN OF THE MONTH: It’s incredible isn’t it? I had been in touch with the giant panda parents for quite a while and finally they called me and said I should come down to the zoo. I spend hours there and I had unprecedented access to their home. I was able to go in every room. No door was closed to me. It was unbelievable that Bai Yun and Gao Gao let me into their private life like that. It was absolutely something that I was so excited to be a part of.
KING: Did you expect to be at the panda exhibit all day?
KRAMER: No actually. I expected to only spend an hour or two, and then, you know, the shoot just kept getting more and more interesting and we all were having such a great time.
KING: The photo you used on your blog looks like an emotional shot for Bai Yun and Gao Gao, any particular reason the way it was shot that way and why you picked that for the main photo?
KRAMER: Yes. That’s a fabulous story. I was at the favorite spot of the family, which is called Panda Village. The sun was setting. The baby panda was looking straight at the camera. Bai Yun and Gao Gao were looking down at the baby and I shot that picture. And, at that moment, everyone became a little bit emotional because we knew we had it. That was definitely going to be the blog photo. There was no question about it.
KING: The grandmother I understand got emotional, huh?
KRAMER: Yes. Gao Gao’s mother was looking at her granddaughter and her future daughter-in-law to be and she started to cry. And then all of us started to get really emotional. And, Gao Gao was fighting back the tears. We talked about that moment later and he said he just — it was all so much and the beauty of the place. It was incredible.
KING: Feeding the baby that giant piece of bamboo was that photo — set up?
KRAMER: No, the baby was hungry, and the sun was starting to set and she just felt like doing that and it was a great moment.
KING: Gao Gao said this to you about fatherhood. “My whole life I always wanted to be a father.” Was that evident in the way he was?
KRAMER: Absolutely. I was so happy to see this family all so happy together, hanging out together, so comfortable with each other. They just are happy. They’re smiling all the time. They love to tell stories. They’re a very warm and open family.
KING: What was it like for you the first time you saw Sui Lin?
KRAMER: Well, I walked up and I saw this beautiful woman holding this adorable baby and then Gao Gao standing next to — and they’re all waving at me and they’re so excited that I was there. And the baby looked exactly to me like Gao Gao. And I just couldn’t wait to hold the baby, which I did.
KING: I love this photo. Of mother and daughter.
KRAMER: That is a beautiful shot. You can see how happy they all are and the baby… as you can see lifting her head. She’s gorgeous.
KING: Is that baby as happy as she appears?
KRAMER: That baby is smiling and cooing and giggling. It’s a really happy baby, yes, it is.
KING: A quote from Bai Yun, “The moment the doctor handed me Su Lin, I was just ready. The feeling is indescribable. All I can say is the moment I looked in her eyes I felt like Mom.”
KING: What kind of mom is she?
KRAMER: Bai Yun is an incredible mother just the way she holds that baby and looks at — that baby looks at her. They have such a connection. She’s very hands on. They have very little help, you know. Actually, they’re very — they’re a very normal family. I mean what you read in the zoo promotional materials and then when you see them it’s just there’s no connection. It’s just this great, happy family. I can’t — I can’t stress enough how normal the whole thing seemed and I know I was with the biggest attraction in the San Diego zoo. But I keep coming back to the fact that, you know, when they’re holding their baby they’re like every parent in the world, you know, doting parents.
KING: Is Bai Yun a Buddhist or is she becoming one to please Gao Gao?
KRAMER: I really don’t know that, Larry.
KING: Did you discuss that at all?
KRAMER: I did not discuss that at all, no.
KING: Was that a condition of the blog post or not?
KRAMER: Oh, no. There were no conditions at all, no, no, no.
KING: Neil Kramer, you pulled off a coup.
KRAMER: Yes, to see a baby like that… born… from a mother… and loved by parents… it’s so special nowadays to see that… so unique and amazing…
KING: Thanks, Neil.
KRAMER: Thank you, Larry.
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