Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



The Cub's 12th Week

September 30: At Seventh Exam, Cub Weighs 11.1 Pounds

cub at today's examAt the cub's exam this morning, we weighed him at 11.1 pounds and measured him—from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail—at 24.7 inches. He had gained 1.5 pounds in 11 days, when he was last examined, and had grown a little more than two inches. When we checked his mouth, we felt a ridge of teeth—his molars are beginning to come in. We also gave him his second vaccination against the canine distemper virus. Everything went smoothly during the 14-minute exam. Mei ate bamboo and rested, and the cub took everything in stride. He is becoming more active, and tried to raise himself up and crawl during part of the exam. He also made grunting noises. click toSee how he's grown.

September 29: Cub Takes a Few Steps

The cub lifted himself on all four legs this morning and took about three steps before collapsing on his side. The sounds of his efforts brought Mei Xiang back into the den. After picking him up and giving him a good once over with both eyes and tongue, she left him sleeping, and stretched out on the platform for a nap.

September 28: Mei Not Ready for Cub to Leave Den

This morning we moved the cub onto a bed of hay placed just outside the door to the den. When Mei Xiang was given access to this enclosure, she slowly approached the cub, then passed him to look inside the den. She immediately returned to the cub and dragged him by the scruff of his head and neck area, back to the den. She did this in three minutes, although it seemed much longer as she had a hard time picking up the big boy. She certainly let us know she is not ready to have him relocated!

September 27: Mei Keeps Cub and Den Clean

When we enter the den to remove the remains of Mei Xiang's carry-out bamboo meals, we are amazed at the cleanliness. Mei also keeps the cub squeaky clean. She often engages in long grooming sessions after being away from him for several hours. Pandas, like many other animals, stimulate urination and defecation by ano-genital grooming or a-g licking. This behavior is important for the health of the young, as it can be several days to weeks before the young can urinate or defecate on its own. In pandas, a-g licking is also a behavior used to determine impending birth. We rarely find birth fluids or tissue after panda births, as this is all consumed by the mother. All these bodily fluids may help to supplement the mother during her long, post-birth fasting period. More importantly it provides a clean, dry nest area that would be less attractive to predators.

September 26: Everything Going Well

Everything continues to go smoothly with Mei and the cub. There have been no new behaviors or changes in the routine over the past week. We are looking forward to seeing the cub take a few more steps.

September 25: A Normal Day

The cub continues to try to stand but still without success. Mei Xiang spent long times away from the cub yesterday, and interacted with Tian Tian through the mesh. All in all, a normal day with no new milestones to report.

We invite all kids who want to help support the Zoo's panda program to enter the Pennies for Pandas Fundraising Challenge. The deadline has been extended to October 31.

September 24: New Cub Photo Gallery

Mei and cubThe cub is 11 weeks old today and is still doing great.

Many of you have written to ask if we can compile some cub pictures in one place. Today we are posting a new photo gallery of the cub's first 11 weeks, with images taken from the web cam and photos from exams. We will add to the photo gallery as we get more pictures.

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