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The Cub's Sixth Week

August 19: A New Record Outing

Mei Xiang has been leaving the cub in the nest and resting nearby, or going into the next enclosure for longer periods. Yesterday afternoon, Mei set a new record of time spent apart from the cub: 77 minutes, with 52 minutes of feeding. We are providing more bamboo in a second feeding. Yesterday, she was given a total of 21.4 pounds of bamboo. Mei consumed approximately 10.4 pounds in the morning, although we cannot get an exact measurement since Mei carries some of her bamboo into the den.

August 18: At Third Exam, Cub Weighs 4.2 Pounds

cub at August 18 examWe completed our third cub exam this morning. The cub weighs 4.2 pounds, 1.6 pounds more than he weighed at the last exam on August 8, and his total length is 17 inches, up nearly 3 inches. The head length increased from 4 to 5 3/4 inches, and the body length increased an inch, to 9 1/4 inches. The chest girth was 12 inches, up 2 inches. The tail is still 2 inches long. As we noted earlier, pandas do grow into their tails. See how he's grown

His heart and lungs sound healthy, and there was an eye blink response, but the eyes have not yet opened. There is a gum ridge, but no teeth are present. Teeth are not expected to erupt for a couple of months. The exam confirms we have a healthy, thriving, solid little boy.

He was quiet throughout the 14-minute exam and even fell asleep. Mei Xiang listened but continued to eat as we operated doors, and retrieved and returned the cub to the nest. We also removed old bamboo and replenished the hay before giving Mei access to the den. She did not return to the cub as soon as the door opened, but continued to eat for a few more minutes. We are all very pleased to see this.

August 17: Mei Eats More, Cub Rests Without Contact

Mei Xiang is now consuming 1.1 pounds of leaf-eater biscuit and 5.7-8.2 pounds of bamboo daily. She usually eats during four or five trips outside the den, although she sometimes snacks on old bamboo that she pulls into the den. Mei continues to get up in the morning after fresh food is placed in the exhibit adjacent to her den. This morning, sticking her head out through the window in the door to watch the keeper work, she seemed eager to eat. She accepted half an apple and four biscuits, which were hand fed. She took them very gently and consumed them immediately.

The cub has been resting on the nest quietly without contact with Mei for longer periods of time. The longest so far is 53 minutes. Mei has been recently seen lying on her platform bed with her head resting on the edge, where she can keep an eye on him.

August 16: Cub Grows Bigger Every Day

panda cub Mei Xiang continues to impress everyone as an excellent mother. Her cub, feeding on high-fat milk, impresses everyone by growing quickly enough for web cam viewers to see his size increase from one day to the next. He may weigh 80 pounds by age 1. click toRead about the development of panda cubs.

August 15: Cub Growing Fast

Mei holding cubThose of us who did not work over the weekend and did not peek at the website are astounded at how much the cub has grown in three days. We are all guessing that it is more than four pounds. Everyone wants to be the first to detect that it has opened its eyes . . . but not yet!

Mei Xiang has gone out of the den to eat as soon as fresh food is provided on four out of the last five mornings. Perhaps she is actually developing a routine!

August 14: Hints of a Routine

Mei and cubEach morning, the giant panda keepers clean the exhibit area outside of the cubbing den, where Mei Xiang goes to eat and eliminate. They remove any uneaten bamboo and biscuits, and replace them with fresh food. This is also when they collect urine and feces samples for hormone analyses. Yesterday and today, Mei Xiang entered this area as soon as the keepers completed their tasks and opened the door to her. Staff hope this trend continues and Mei Xiang is settling into a routine. This will make it easier to plan for regular check-ups of the cub.

August 13: Cub Is Five Weeks Old Today

Today our giant panda cub is five weeks old and thriving under Mei Xiang's attentive care. The cub's next milestone is opening its eyes, which could begin anytime now. A panda cub's eyes usually open partway after 30 to 45 days and open fully a week or two later.

Mei Xiang hasn't settled into a routine pattern of leaving her cub to eat and eliminate, so staff can't set a time for the cub's next vet check-up.

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