The Cub's Eighth Week
September 2: Mei Weighs in at 235 Pounds
Mei Xiang came through one of the indoor exhibits and into the patio/scale area this morning. She weighs 235 pounds, which is a good weight for her. Her last weight during pregnancy, on June 13, was 249 pounds, which was a bit on the heavy side. After being weighed, she decided to hang out in the scale area, looking out at the yard, sniffing around the area (Tian is weighed here, also), and moving the scale. Tian was still inside at the time. Mei Xiang spent eight minutes in this area before going into another indoor exhibit. She did not return to the cub for another seven minutes. While we were very excited and pleased to get her weight, Mei acted as though she had been doing this every day.
Tian was shifted onto the scale after Mei departed. He sniffed the area but immediately redirected his interest to leaf-eater biscuits.
September 1: Cub Moves More Deliberately
The cub's movements have been more directed as his muscles continue developing every day. He was seen rubbing his hind feet together and scratching his front leg with his back leg.
August 31: Cub Does Ab Crunches, Tian Stays Cool
The cub has been seen doing abdominal crunches as he works to move his body in a coordinated way. From the August 18 exam to yesterday's exam, he had not grown much more than an about an inch in length, however his chest girth and weight had increased, by an inch around and two pounds. Mei and the cub are doing fine. Other than the exam, everything has been fairly routine this week.
Tian has been using both grottos in the outdoor exhibit lately. We have been placing some of his food in the grottos to encourage him to stay there on hot days, since he is currently the panda poster boy. He is doing a great job as the one and only exhibit ornament.
August 30: At Fourth Exam, Cub Weighs 6.2 Pounds
We did our fourth cub exam this morning The cub now weighs 6.2 pounds. We did not get an accurate head measurement due to his squirming and fussing. His body length (from the base of the skull to the head of the tail) was ten inches, 3/4 inch longer than it was at his last exam, on August 18. The chest girth was 13 inches, an inch more than before. His heart and lungs sound healthy. See how he's grown
During the exam, Mei became anxious as the cub squealed. One of the keepers called Mei away from the den, as she was trying to fit her body through an eight-inch-square window in the den door! After the fourth call, Mei reluctantly came away from the den door to the keeper and accepted some pear, apple, and sweet potato, and calmed down. When we opened the den door, Mei looked in to see the cub and then turned away for a moment before returning to pick up the cub.
Last night Mei Xiang rested on the rock work in the indoor exhibit for three hours and six minutes—the longest period she has rested away from the cub.
August 29: Mei Does Well in Training Cage
Mei Xiang is now eating 11-15.4 pounds of bamboo daily. Over the weekend we added a third feeding of bamboo and an additional half a pound of biscuit back into her diet. She has been ready and waiting for her meals lately. On Sunday, Mei went into the training cage at 9 a.m. after declining a request from one of our keepers earlier in the morning. She got into the positions for a blood draw and radiographs, and she did "lie down" for a pretend ultrasound. Good job, Mei! Mei also has been given access to another indoor exhibit. She entered it briefly early Sunday morning, to urinate and defecate.
Mei seems to be more noise sensitive lately. She has been honking and huffing more frequently. If she is in the exhibit, she will return to check the cub before going back to eat again. Most bouts last about 15 to 20 minutes. There are also times when she vocalizes for no apparent reason that we can determine. She settles down quickly.
The cub is starting to have some control when he rolls and squirms, so that he is beginning to almost crawl in a direction. At times, it looks like he is doing pushups on his front legs. We cannot imagine that he will be able to lift his pear-shaped rear end any time soon.
August 28: Continuing to Return to Normal Life
Keepers began luring Mei Xiang into the training cage last week to reacclimate her to that environment. In another step toward getting life back to the way it was, keepers now have increased Mei's access to one of the exhibit spaces, allowing her to roam more often.
August 27: Happy Birthday, Tian
Today is Tian Tian's eighth birthday! In the wild, male pandas do not help raise their offspring. The cub is seven weeks old today. Now that the cub's eyes are open, his next milestone will be standing and walking a few steps, which may occur when he is about 11 or 12 weeks old. At about this time, his teeth are expected to begin erupting.
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