UPDATE: Latest on Giant Panda Cub at National Zoo


In August, ZooBorns excitedly shared news of the birth of twin Giant Pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The cubs were born on August 22 and the story quickly spread worldwide. Unfortunately, the smaller and weaker of the two cubs died just a few days after birth. Keepers at the National Zoo have continued their diligent care of the remaining cub.

In one of the latest updates from the zoo, keepers reported that, on a recent evening, Mei Xiang decided to eat some sugarcane and drink diluted apple juice left for her. Two hours later, she left the den to urinate and defecate, which was only the second time she had done so since giving birth. Keepers expect that she will become more comfortable leaving her cub in the den for increasingly longer periods of time to eat and drink over the next few weeks.

During these times Mei Xiang is away from the den, veterinarians and keepers often take the opportunity to give the cub quick checkups. On September 5, he weighed 409.6 grams, which was 119 grams more than he weighed on Sept. 2. On September 14, he was up to 881.5 grams (1.9 lbs.). Cubs at this stage usually gain between 40 and 50 grams per day. Veterinarians also listened to his heart and lungs, which all sounded normal. 



4_21255859399_c9ced62049_oPhoto Credits: Smithsonian National Zoo & Meghan Murphy (Images 1,2) ; Erika Bauer (Image 7)

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics confirmed that the Giant Panda cub born Aug. 22 at the National Zoo is male. A paternity analysis showed that Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) is the cub's father. Scientists also confirmed the deceased cub, delivered by Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), was a male, also sired by Tian Tian. The cubs were fraternal twins.

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Panda Twins Cause Giant Stir at Smithsonian’s Nat. Zoo


Giant Panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) gave birth to twins at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on August 22. The panda team witnessed the first cub’s birth at 5:35 pm.  A second cub was born at 10:07pm. 



4_20191285443_22e6b35e63_kPhoto Credits: Smithsonian's National Zoo / (Images 9 & 10: Connor Mallon)

A panda team of three keepers retrieved one of the cubs per the Zoo’s Giant Panda Twin Hand-Rearing protocol. The cub was placed in an incubator and was cared for by veterinarians and panda keepers. At this time, it has not been confirmed if the retrieved cub was the first born or second born. The retrieved cub was vocalizing very well and appeared healthy. It weighed 138 grams.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins approximately 50 percent of the time. This is only the third time a Giant Panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.

The panda team will alternately swap the cubs, allowing one to nurse and spend time with Mei Xiang, while the other is being bottle fed and kept warm in an incubator. The sex of the cubs won’t be determined until a later date.

As of this morning (August 24), the zoo reports that the panda cubs are doing well, but the panda team had a challenging night. When they tried to swap the cubs at 11p.m., Mei Xiang would not set down the cub she had in her possession. Consequently, the panda team cared for the smaller cub throughout the night until 7:05 am, when they successfully swapped the cubs. The panda team supplemented the smaller cub with formula by bottle-feeding. They were concerned that the smaller cub was not getting enough volume, so they moved to tube feeding which went well and quickly.  Their goal is for each cub to spend an equal amount of time with their mother.  Keepers stated, the newborn cubs are vulnerable and this first week is incredibly important and the risk remains high. The panda team is doing great work, around the clock, and will continue to keep the public posted.

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Panda Kisses for Zoo Madrid's Little Cub

Hua Zui Ba the Giant Panda is a superstar at Zoo Madrid:  She is providing exceptional care to the cub she delivered on August 30.

The newborn male cub cried loudly as Hua Zui Ba took him onto her lap within seconds of the birth. As the emotional veterinary team looked on, Hua Zui Ba licked and protected her tiny pink cub.

Photo Credit:  Zoo Madrid

Now, the cub is ready to take over the limelight.  He is growing rapidly and already weighs eight pounds (3.6 kg), which is more than most Panda cubs weigh at this age. 

The Zoo Madrid staff is following Chinese custom by giving the cub a name when he turns 100 days old.  All are invited to vote for their favorite name here.

Giant Pandas are Endangered and are found in small forest reserves within eastern central China.  International efforts, both in zoos and in the wild, have improved breeding success rates within the species, but habitat loss and poaching still threaten the survival of these beloved creatures.

See photos of the Panda cub as a newborn below the fold.

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UPDATE! Zoo Atlanta Announces Names of Panda Twins

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Zoo Atlanta's Panda twins are no longer 'Cub A' and 'Cub B'! On October 23, zoo officials announced the new names of their twin Panda cubs: Mei Lun ('may loon') and Mei Huan ('may hwaan'). The names originate from a Chinese idiom that means "something indescribably beautiful and magnificent." Following Chinese tradition, the names were announced on the same day the cubs turned 100 days old.

Do you remember how tiny they used to be? Revisit our first story about the newborns here.

Want to take a peek? Zoo Atlanta has a live Panda Cam.

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5 pandaPhoto credits: Zoo Atlanta

See how the cubs have grown over their first 100 days of life:


See more photos after the fold!

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It's a Boy! Zoo Vienna Welcomes a Healthy Panda Cub

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Zoo Vienna's newest Panda cub, the third Panda ever to be born at the zoo, is now two months old. The little animal is at an exciting phase of development: his eyes have opened.

"Panda babies are born blind. Between 30 and 45 days after birth their eyes slowly begin to open. One to two weeks later they have opened completely although perception is still restricted to light-dark contrasts," the zoo’s director Dagmar Schratter explains.

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Photo credits: Daniel Zupanc / Zoo Vienna

See an early video of Yang Yang with her newborn:


Meanwhile, mother Yang Yang is now comfortable leaving the breeding box to eat and drink about seven times a day. All in all, she now leaves the young animal, which already weighs around 6.5 pounds (3 kg), alone for up to six hours. Still, the black and white fur-ball’s admirers will have to be patient another few months until he will be able to climb out of the breeding box on his own. 

Schratter says, "The baby panda cannot crawl yet. He manages to push himself away from the floor only to fall over immediately and to tumble back into the soft bamboo nest."

UPDATE! National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cub is a Healthy Girl


The Giant Panda cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on August 23 received her first veterinary exam on September 16. (See our first story here.) She was given a clean bill of health. Mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), who has spent much of the past three and-a-half weeks cradling the cub, put down her baby and left her den at 4:11 p.m. The panda team, which has been preparing for an opportunity to perform a full veterinary exam, retrieved the cub while Mei Xiang ate bamboo and drank some water in the adjacent enclosure. The speedy exam was completed by 4:31 p.m.


“It’s amazing to see how much she has grown in less than one month,” said Brandie Smith, senior curator of mammals and Giant Pandas. “Mei Xiang continues to be a great mom, as she was with her first cub, Tai Shan, and it shows.”


Since her preliminary health check on August 25, the cub has more than doubled her weight. She now weighs slightly less than two pounds (.9 kg), up from 4.8 ounces (146 g), and has the signature black markings of a Giant Panda. Her heart rate was 130 beats per minute, and her respiratory rate was 42. From nose to tail she is 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) long and 9.8 inches (25 centimeters) wide around her belly. Her eyes have not opened yet.


After the exam was completed, Mei Xiang returned to her den and immediately picked up her cub and began grooming her. The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat has been closed to the public since August 2, and will remain closed until further notice to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub. Both are visible on the live panda cams



Photo Credits; Courtney Janney, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Knoxville Zoo's Red Panda Twins Looking for Names!

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Knoxville Zoo is now home to two Red Panda cubs, born June 1. The twins, one boy and one girl, are born to mother Scarlett and father Madan. Though young and still a bit reclusive, the cubs already have rather distinct personality traits. The female cub is feisty, often letting out a "huff-quack" - a cross between a hiss and a bark- to keep strangers at bay. Her brother is a bit more easy going, much like his father. Scarlett and her cubs have been bonding in their next box. When the twins are older, they will leave the nest box for the zoo's outdoor Red Panda exhibit. Until then, the 11 week old cubs are looking for names! The zoo is holding a naming contest for the pair. Voting will occur on their website starting August 31.

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The birth of these cubs brings the number of red pandas born at Knoxville Zoo to 106. The zoo ranks as one of the top two zoos in the world for the breeding of endangered red pandas. Red pandas are endangered, primarily due to destruction of their native habitat, which extends from western Nepal to northern Myanmar.

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Knoxville Zoo red panda cubs 112

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Giant Panda Cub Brings Smiles to Smithsonian's National Zoo


There was excitement in the air on Friday, August 23 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. The zoo's panda team watched the panda cam anxiously as Mei Xiang, the zoo's female panda, went into labor around 3:36 pm. After two hours, at 5:32 pm, she gave birth to a cub! Viewers heard the cub vocalize and caught a quick glimpse before Mei Xiang immediately began cradling it. The cub had its first neonatal exam on Sunday morning. It appeared robust, active and a healthy shade of pink. The cub weighed 4.8 ounces (137 grams) and is nursing and digesting successfully. At the time of the exam, it had a full belly. 


“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.”


Panda pregnancies can be tricky. Artificial insemination has been long used and is one of the more successful methods of producing cubs for Giant Pandas in captivity. Changes in hormone levels and behaviors indicate a pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. The only way to definitively differentiate between a true pregnancy and a pseudopregnancy is seeing a fetus on an ultrasound. In Mei's pregancy, a secondary rise in urinary progesterone on July 10 indicated that she would either give birth or experience a pseudopregnancy in just over a month. Her behavior was consistent with this. She experienced decreased appetite and began spending more time in her den. An ultrasound on August 5 showed no evidence of a fetus. However, by August 11 she began body licking and cradling toys, which indicated that she could give birth soon. Luckiy, she did! A paternal analysis will determine the father of the pup within a few weeks. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice on March 30 with semen from both Tian Tian, the zoo's male Giant Panda, and San Diego Zoo's male Giant Panta, Gao Gao.


This is Mei Xiang's third cub as a result of artificial insemination. Her first cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005. He now lives at the Panda Base in BiFengxia in Ya'an China. The zoo's pandas live in the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda habitat, where they conduct cutting-edge research crucial to the survival of this endangered species.

Photo Credits Courtney Janney, Smithsonian's National Zoo

UPDATE! Giant Panda Mother and Cub Reunite at Taipei Zoo

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Taipei Zoo's Giant Panda cub is growing up healthy and strong. At one month old, she now weighs in at 2.5 pounds (1,140 grams), more than six times her weight at birth. The cub was hand-raised due to concerns that the mother, Yuan Yuan, would not be able to provide the best care for her baby. (See our original story about the birth here.)  The cub has been named Yuan Tsai, and although she will not appear before the public for another three months, many families flocked to Taipei Zoo's recent baby shower in celebration of the first panda born in Taiwan. 

About a month after Yuan Tsai's July 6th-birth, Zookeepers began to carefully conduct a series of introductions between mother and baby. For the safety of the little one, the sessions took place in a controlled environment, in case the mother did not respond well to her reintroduced cub. The gradual introductions worked well and now Yuan Tsai and her mother are fully reunited. 

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Photo credits: Taipei Zoo

Watch as zookeepers carefully introduce mother and cub:

See the cub returned to her mother:


See more photos of Yuan Tsai's development after the fold!

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Twins Are a Handful for Zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Mom


Zoo Atlanta's Lun Lun, a 15-year-old Giant Panda, gave birth to twins on July 15. The cubs are the first Giant Pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 as well as the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987.

Lun Lun is an experienced and capable mother, but she has never before given birth to twins, which are not unusual in her species. Zoo staff are caring for one of the cubs in the nursery unit in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center, while Lun Lun is currently caring for the other cub. Assisting Zoo Atlanta staff is an animal care colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where mom Lun Lun and father Yang Yang were born. Zoo Staff may rotate the cubs’ time with the mother, to ensure that both receive an equal share of maternal care without overexerting Lun Lun. You might be able to sneak a peek of Lun Lun with a cub through Zoo Atlanta's live Panda Cam.   



Photo credits: Zoo Atlanta

Watch a video of the twins' birth: 
Take a look inside the incubator:


In the wild, Giant Panda mothers typically care for only one cub when twins are born. Thus, it is normal in the wild for only one of the twins to survive. Giant Panda twins have survived in zoos within and outside of China. Usually this is accomplished by rotating the cubs with the mother for the first few months. However, Giant Pandas are born very tiny, and there is a high risk of mortality in the first few months. This risk increases in twins, which tend to have lower birth weights than do single cubs.

Learn more after the fold!

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