Baby Giant Panda Cub is “robust, fully formed, and is a bright, healthy shade of pink”, Sadly Mei Xiang also gave birth to a second, stillborn cub

Photo courtesy of the National Zoo

Update on the Giant Panda cub from the National Zoo:

“This morning [Sunday], the panda team was able to give the cub its first neonatal exam. The cub is robust, fully formed, and is a bright, healthy shade of pink. It weighs 137 grams, which is about 4.8 ounces. Its heart rate is steady, and vets were able to hear breathing sounds from both lungs. It’s belly was nice and full, its mouth was normal, and it was obvious that the cub is both nursing and digesting. All signs are that we have a very healthy, active, vibrant cub.

We won’t know the cub’s sex or its paternity for two or three weeks.

At 7:29 p.m. yesterday evening, 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 the first cub and hear it squealing. 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. Mei’s first cub continues to do well.”

21 Comment

  • mtpgal

    Rooting for the new cub!

  • When’s he off to China?

  • I wish they would leave the mother and baby alone. The baby grabbing sounds terrible and does not serve any purpose other than stressing the poor mother. WTF zoo vets….

    • Without the zoo vets there would be no baby panda in the first place, so I’ll trust that they’re qualified to intervene.

    • It absolutely serves a purpose – the vets are giving the cub an exam. You don’t think this is useful? Sheesh.

      • A 5 minute examinations does not tell the vet anything! It just stresses the animal. The only reason the panda population is going down is because of human encroachment, reduction in bamboo forest, chemicals and human activity. Leave the mother alone !

        • I’m not a vet and obviously, I wasn’t there, but from what I’ve read it seems as though: a) the zoo is trying to be as unobtrusive as possible and minimize the number of exams and therefore the disruption; and b) the initial neonatal exam is useful for ascertaining whether the cub is nursing and digesting adequately and whether its heart and lungs appear healthy. Yes, I’m sure the mother is perplexed and none too happy in the moment her cub is absent, but I’m not sure if there are any major negative effects on the cub-rearing and bonding. If you’ve been following the Atlanta cubs at all, the zookeepers and vets there are actually swapping out the cubs every four hours or so (one stays with the mother, while the other goes in an incubator) because the mother is so laser-focused on a single cub that in the wild, a second cub will rarely survive. I’ve seen the mother panda and one cub on the Atlanta panda cam a number of times, and she appears to be quite content to nurse and bond with each cub, despite the swapping.

          • Maybe you do not have a child and given birth so you dont understand where I am coming from, I would have a breakdown if my baby had been grabbed from me even for a moment. Stress does not help in maintaining proper bodily functions. If there is a 24hour watch there is no need to be grabbing the baby.

          • Um, I don’t have a child, but plenty of my loved ones do, and as far as I know, it is pretty normal for doctors to give human babies a brief assessment of their condition (the Apgar) immediately after birth–and more extensive assessment if there is further concern. My cousin just delivered a baby that had to be put on a monitor shortly after birth because she was having trouble clearing her lungs–sure, it was worrisome, but better to be safe than sorry, and as soon as my cousin got the baby back, she was so thankful that everything was confirmed all clear that her stress melted away and she was happy as a clam. I’m no panda whisperer, but judging from the panda cam, it doesn’t look like Mei has lingering trauma and anxiety. Animals–including humans–are pretty resilient.

          • Sanctimommy alert!

  • So happy and trying very hard not to be overly worried.

  • pablo .raw

    Anchor baby! (kidding of course)

  • He obviously consumed the power of his twin. This guy is going to be something special.

  • I wish they wouldn’t tell us anything about this baby until it has a higher chance of survival. The cub dying last year broke my heart.

  • Oh my goodness, between this new cub and the “twin” panda cubs at Zoo Atlanta…I’m on cuteness overload.

  • Actually, the policy used to be to leave them alone for the first several weeks. The Chinese vets think it’s important to examine the cubs early, so the zoo sent a couple of vets to China to learn exactly how to do it.

    • Yes, there is a good reason the vets wanted to examine the cub. Unlike you and me (unless you’re a vet who is an expert in giant pandas) the zoo folks know what they’re doing.

      • The so called zoo experts…. remember how they killed the pygmy hippo, and the two red pandas?

        • So you’re suggesting, here and above, that what zoo veterinarians really want is to kill baby animals, and that’s why they do things so obviously contrary to best practice? Or that YOU have superior knowledge in exotic animal care, and if only they would leave it all to you, that you’d have those lazy pandas (red and giant) up and breeding naturally in no time?
          (Oh, re: your above statement: I DO have a baby, and she WAS “taken from me” within an hour or her birth. I took a nap, got her back a few hours later, and then I died. No, then she died. No, wait… that’s not what happened…. Oh! Right! We were (and are, half a dozen years later) both fine and happy. THAT’s what happened!)

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