FTA: “Giant panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) gave birth to a cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo yesterday (August 23) 5:32 p.m. The panda team heard the cub vocalize and glimpsed the cub for the first time briefly immediately after the birth. Mei Xiang picked the cub up immediately and began cradling and caring for it.”
“I’m glued to the new panda cams and thrilled to hear the squeals, which appear healthy, of our newborn cub,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “Our expansive panda team has worked tirelessly analyzing hormones and behavior since March, and as a result of their expertise and our collaboration with scientists from around the world we are celebrating this birth.”
“Keepers and veterinarians will perform a preliminary health exam on the cub within the next 48 hours. Li Guo, lead giant panda keeper at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, is at the National Zoo supporting the giant panda keepers. Li and the Zoo’s panda team will perform health checks every few days during the next week. The panda cams will be briefly turned off when the team performs the health checks.”
“Mei Xiang gave birth to her first cub, Tai Shan, July 9, 2005. Tai Shan was born as a result of artificial insemination and now lives at the Panda Base in BiFengxia in Ya’an, China. Mei Xiang gave birth to her second cub born as the result of an artificial insemination September 16, 2012. Six days after her birth, the giant panda cub died from liver damage caused by underdeveloped lungs.”
Read more about the pregnancy and birth on the Smithsonain National Zoo’s webpage.
See Mei Xiang and her baby on the Panda Cam
**UPDATE** Sadly, At 7:29 p.m. this evening (8/24), Mei Xiang gave birth to a second, stillborn cub. Keepers watching Mei on the panda cam saw her groom it for 17 minutes. When she stopped grooming, it fell from Mei’s body onto the floor of the den. It lay motionless and made no sound. Throughout, staff could see it visually and hear the first cub squealing, and Mei never set it down. Staff retrieved the motionless cub with a grabbing device. It was immediately evident that the cub had developmental abnormalities and wasn’t fully formed. It was never alive. A necropsy is underway, and the Zoo will provide additional information tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Mei’s first cub continues to do well.