For Release: July 9, 2005
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083 or (202) 391-4231
Peper Long (202) 633-3082 or (202) 391-2471
National Zoo’s Giant Panda Gives Birth to a Cub
At 3:41 a.m. today, the National Zoo’s giant panda, Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), gave birth to a cub.
The Zoo’s veterinarians say that mother and cub seem to be doing fine. The next few days are critical in determining the cub’s health—Mei Xiang is a first-time mother and panda cubs are very small, fragile and dependent on maternal care. The cubs are also susceptible to infections.
Zoo staff will not be able to determine the cub’s gender until veterinarians have an opportunity to conduct a brief medical exam, which may be several weeks from now. A newborn cub weighs 3 to 5 ounces and is about the size of a stick of butter.
On March 11, National Zoo scientists and veterinarians artificially inseminated Mei Xiang, after it was determined no successful mating occurred between Mei Xiang and her mate Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) during the previous 24 hours. Zoo veterinarians anesthetized Mei Xiang while Zoo scientists inseminated Tian Tian’s sperm directly into her uterus.
Earlier this month, Mei Xiang’s levels of urinary progesterone (a hormone associated with pregnancy) began to decline. Upon reaching a normal baseline level, this decline would result in either the end of a pseudopregnancy or the birth of a cub. The National Zoo is happy to announce that unlike the past breeding attempts with this panda pair, this year resulted in a cub.
Animal Planet, the media sponsor of the National Zoo’s giant panda pair, has exclusive rights to video for 24 hours after a cub birth. As a result, the giant panda Web cam will be down for 24 hours from the cub’s birth. In addition, the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat—indoor and outdoor exhibits—will be closed to all visitors for the next few days.
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Note to Editors: For a digital press kit on the Zoo’s giant pandas, go to http://newsdesk.si.edu, and click on the “Panda Pregnancy Watch” press kit link.