Giant Panda cubs Ya Lun and Xi Lun are nearly four months old and can now scoot, wobble, and walk across their day room at Zoo Atlanta.
Born September 3, the female cubs are capturing the world’s attention as they become more mobile. Experienced mother Lun Lun is gradually introducing her cubs to new and exciting adventures, including the wide-open spaces of the day room.
Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named at their 100-Day Celebration in keeping with an ancient Chinese tradition. They now weigh nearly 11 pounds, through their woolly fur makes them appear much larger.
The next milestone for the cubs will be climbing, and they’ve already been testing those skills on logs within the dayroom.
Giant Pandas’ status was recently downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild. The population still relies heavily on conservation breeding programs like the one at Zoo Atlanta.
The twins are the sixth and seventh offspring for Lun Lun and her mate, Yang Yang. Their five previous cubs now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
The only Giant Panda twins in the U.S. are now no longer known by the identifying letters A and B. Zoo Atlanta’s female cubs can now be called by their new names: Ya Lun and Xi Lun.
The names were recently revealed at the twins’ 100-Day Naming Celebration on December 12, 2016, at Zoo Atlanta.
The winning names came from among seven sets of names supplied by the Zoo’s conservation partners in Chengdu, China. The names Ya Lun (Cub A) and Xi Lun (Cub B) earned just over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by Panda fans around the world, in the Zoo sponsored contest, from November 21 to December 4.
Ya means “elegant,” and Xi (pronounced shee) means “happy.” Lun (loon) references daughters of Lun Lun. Together, the monikers mean “Lun Lun’s elegant and happy daughters.”
Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta
“We’re thrilled to announce two beautiful and meaningful names for two healthy, thriving, 100-day-old Giant Panda cubs. This is a celebration we share with the City of Atlanta, our longtime partners at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, and with our Zoo Atlanta family, which includes friends and fans from around the world,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we celebrate the future of their species together.”
The 100-Day Celebration, which has been followed with all seven Atlanta-born Giant Pandas, is an ancient Chinese tradition that holds that when a child reaches the 100th day of life, he or she has survived the fragility of infancy and may be considered on track for a successful future.
Pongo the Orangutan just turned one year old just a few days ago, on January 10. He was born by Caesarian section at Zoo Atlanta and raised by a team of zoo keepers, volunteers and veterinarians while Blaze, the mother, recovered.
A first-time mom, Blaze fully recovered from the surgery but wasn't quite ready to take on the role of motherhood. Caregivers began a careful series of introductions, allowing mother and baby to see each other across a barrier (for safety). In the first two photos, Pongo is watching mom at an introdution session.
(We're doing a bit of a recap here, but see our previous stories on the birth and early reintroductions for even more photos!)
After two months of introductions, Blaze finally reached a curious hand out toward the little baby.
Reintroduction efforts continued daily. Pongo was taken to the orangutan building each morning for intros with Blaze, and each evening returned to a nursery to receive round-the-clock care and feeding from staff and volunteer caregivers. Meanwhile, he was growing steadily, gaining strength, and learning how to climb!
Photo credits: Zoo Atlanta / Adam K. Thompson (1-3, 11, 13, 15); Primate Team (4, 7, 11); Laura Mayo (5); Lynn Yakubinis (6, 8); Kate Leach (9, 10, 12); Max Block (14)
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.
Photo credits: Zoo Atlanta
See how the cubs have grown over their first 100 days of life:
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.
This male baby Sumatran Orangutan was born on January 10 at Zoo Atlanta by Caesarian section, which is quite unusual -- it was one of only three to be performed on Sumatran Orangutans in recent years. You can read all about that HERE on ZooBorns. Mom Blaze has recovered and reintroduction of her baby has been a step-by-step process that has been going smoothly. The baby's activities in the Orangutan building have helped him to develop his motor functions and his senses. Every week he's more mobile, and today he weighed almost 6.4 pounds (2.90 kg)!
Due to the Caesarian, the baby could not stay with Mom until she healed. Keepers began working with the baby as a mother would, and in short order, they began reintroduction of the two via controlled interaction. Soon Blaze became very eager to see the baby and engaged in focused connection with him. She lay face to face looking at him for long periods and seemed fascinated by his hair, grooming him several times, touching his head and back repeatedly. Blaze gained confidence around him and began to gently pick him up, moving very slowly to place him in a pile of hay. At times she made cooing vocalizations and was playful with the baby. Perhaps one of the most tender moments was when Blaze reached out to hold her baby's hand!
Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta
CLICK HERE to read regular updates on the baby's progress on the Zoo Atlanta website. It is quite a compelling story and a wonderful way to learn about this species, as well as tracking Mom and baby's progress.
A male Sumatran Orangutan infant
born at Zoo Atlanta on January 10 came into the world in an unusual way: he was delivered by Caesarean section with
the help of human obstetricians, neonatologists, and veterinary
anesthesiologists. This Caesarian
section is one of only three to be performed on Sumatran Orangutans in recent
Zoo Atlanta’s animal care staff
planned for this important delivery for months.
The baby’s 16-year-old mother, Blaze, is a small-bodied female, and she
had a previous infant who did not survive the birth process, possibly due to Blaze’s
Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta
The Caesarian section was performed
by the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team in conjunction with a human obstetrical
team, a veterinary anesthesia team, and a human neonatal team (including a
respiratory therapist, nurse, and neonatal cardiac specialist), all from nearby
hospitals and universities.
"It was an exciting honor to be
included in this team of specialists to help Blaze give birth
successfully," said Sandy Jun, MD, of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "It was very rewarding to use our
human neonatal skills to deliver this orangutan newborn safely, and we were
glad to find that many of those skills translated seamlessly across species. It
is not something we will forget."
Blaze appears to be recovering
normally from the procedure, and her infant is currently in a nursery unit in
the care of the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team and primate care professionals. The
team hopes to reintroduce the infant to Blaze as soon as possible so that the
new mother may begin bonding with her newborn.
“We’re delighted that Blaze’s infant
has arrived safely, and that infant and mother seem to be doing well,” said
Raymond King, President and CEO. “We’re doubly grateful for the support and
participation of such a wide range of outside medical experts, all coming
together with our team to follow an extremely well-executed plan with a superb
level of professionalism and dedication.”
Blaze, who was trained to
participate in voluntary ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy, has been under round-the-clock
observation since her birth window began on January 2.
The infant’s father, 33-year-old
Benny, has been temporarily separated from Blaze but will be reunited with her
and his new offspring soon. Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation’s largest zoological
collection of Orangutans, now with 14 individuals.
Now believed to number fewer than 7,000
in the wild, Sumatran Orangutan populations have declined drastically in recent
years as a result of habitat conversion to palm oil plantations,
over-harvesting of timber, and human encroachment. Without targeted
conservation efforts, experts predict that the species could be extinct in the
wild within 10 years.
The newest baby birds at Zoo Atlanta may take a little while to grow into their looks. Two Toco Toucan chicks hatched around St. Patrick’s Day – a success for a species that can be difficult to breed in captivity.
The chicks are healthy and thriving in an off-exhibit building, where they are currently being hand-reared by Zoo staff. Toucan chicks have soft beaks, which increases their risk of injury in the first few weeks before they fledge. As a precaution, Zoo Atlanta staff removed the new arrivals from their parents’ nest when the chicks were 3 weeks old.
Native to South America, Toco Toucans are the largest and most recognizable of the toucan species sporting black plumage, white throats and bright orange bills.
Check out the chicks at just four weeks old below!
There's a new Eastern bongo baby at Zoo Atlanta! First-time mother Matilda delivered this newest ambassador for the critically endangered species on December 2. The calf is the first for Matilda and the Father, Tambo. Both parents are 3 years old.
“Naturally, we’re delighted about any birth here at the Zoo, but Matilda’s calf also illustrates the role zoos can play in wildlife conservation,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “This is a species on the brink of extinction. Sharing the hope and joy of a new baby helps us educate our guests about these majestic animals and the need to preserve them in the wild.”
Known for their deep reddish coats and magnificent curved horns, bongos are the largest of the African antelope species. Largely due to their elusive nature, the animals were the subjects of legends and superstitions prior to their relatively recent discovery by western science in the 20th century.
Believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild in their native Kenya, eastern bongos face extinction as a result of habitat destruction, poaching and hunting for the bushmeat trade. Matilda and Tambo were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within North American Zoos and has reintroduced captive-born bongos to eastern Africa.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to send a big "hello" from Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium. Last night, Andrew and Chris (Team ZooBorns) descended upon Hotlanta for the 2011 Association of Zoos and Aquariums Annual Conference, hosted by Zoo Atlanta. Also in attendance are Ruby Tugade of UStream and Sam Prestia of Schultz & Williams.