Giant Panda Cub Update – Doubles Weight and Given a Clean Bill of Health

PandaUpdateSep17
Photo courtesy of the National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“The giant panda cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Aug. 23 received her first veterinary exam late yesterday afternoon and was given a clean bill of health. Mei Xiang, who has spent much of the past three and a half weeks cradling her cub, put her down 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, seized the opportunity and retrieved the cub from the den while Mei Xiang ate bamboo and drank some water in the adjacent enclosure. The 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 Tai Shan, and it shows.”

Since her preliminary health check Aug. 25 the cub has more than doubled her weight. She now weighs slightly less than two pounds and has the signature black markings of a giant panda. Veterinarians also listened to her heart and lungs. Her heart rate was 130 beats per minute, and her respiratory rate was 42. From nose to tail she is 10.6 inches long and 9.8 inches 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.”

11 Comment

  • Pandas are cute and all that, but their babies are seriously some of the ugliest things that nature ever created.

  • Jesus Christ!! Now someone is trolling on a BABY PANDA thread??
    This is too much.

    • He/she has a point though. It would be trolling if he/she made an inflammatory comment that has no basis, but this one clearly does.

    • Pandas conservation is a pretty controversial topic. The vast majority of baby pandas actually die in the wild due to poor parenting instincts by the mother and father; very, very few wild pandas make it to their first birthday. Even if you take habitat destruction and poaching out of the equation, nature has pretty much already made the genetic determination that pandas are inherently a rare species. Furthermore, even if we can raise a large stock of pandas in captivity, we’ve pretty much destroyed all natural habitat that they can possibly live in. Their living conditions (altitude, bamboo type, climate) are very specific and they will die quickly if not placed in the correct natural conditions.

      From a Darwinian standpoint, they are one of the most fragile species on earth. In fact, I would argue that humans probably kept them alive longer than they would have lived in “natural” conditions.

    • Emilie504

      lol apparently they didn’t think it was too much, because they are multiplying!

      • Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated, since she and Tian Tian (the male panda at the National Zoo) haven’t been successful in mating naturally. There was actually an interesting article in The New Yorker a few weeks ago (don’t know if it’s archived online for the general public, or just for subscribers) about the challenges in panda mating. But some of it just comes down to compatibility. The New Yorker writer highlighted a funny example about the female panda at the San Diego Zoo who would literally try to beat up her male companion because she was ready to mate, yet he had no interest whatsoever. Eventually, San Diego switched in a different male panda, and their chemistry must have been right, because this new pair apparently goes at it like gangbusters during breeding time.

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