Giant panda Mei Xiang has given birth to a cub at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington D.C., zoo authorities announced.
The mother panda’s water broke at around 3:36 p.m. local time, and she gave birth at 5:32 p.m., the zoo said in a statement.
Mei Xiang picked up the cub immediately and began cradling and caring for it, it added.
Behavior watchers have been monitoring the mother panda around the clock since Aug. 7 via the zoo’s new high-definition panda cams. The zoo’s panda team heard the cub vocalize and glimpsed the cub for the first time shortly after the birth, said zoo authorities.
“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 check 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 also supporting the giant panda keepers at the U.S. National Zoo.
The National Zoo now houses Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, a pair of giant pandas on loan from China. Mei Xiang in 2005 gave birth to her first cub Tai Shan, which now lives in China. Last September she also gave birth to a female cub, which died a week later due to liver failure caused by lung problems. (Xinhua)
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