#PandaStory: The Cub’s Growing Girth

This update was written by Laurie Thompson, assistant curator of giant pandas.

When Mei Xiang left her den to grab a bite to eat this morning, we had another opportunity to conduct a brief exam on our 1-month-old giant panda cub. The newborn was quite sleepy when we retrieved it from the den and napped through much of the excitement.  

A 1-month-old giant panda cub with black-and-white markings, a thin layer of fur and small claws lays on a towel with its head resting on its paw

As of this morning, the cub weighed 1,337 grams, or just under three pounds. From nose to tail tip, it measured 35.5 centimeters, or 13.9 inches (its tail accounts for two of those inches). For the first time, we had a chance to measure the cub’s abdominal girth as well. It’s back and belly measured 32 centimeters, or 12.5 inches in circumference. Our plump panda cub is almost as round as it is long!

At one month old, our cub relies on Mei Xiang’s milk for all of its nutritional needs. Around 1 year old, bamboo and other solid foods make up the majority of a panda's diet. However, it may nurse for comfort up to 18 months of age.

As I mentioned in my last update, our veterinary team obtained a cheek swab from the cub during its Sept. 19 exam. Our Center for Conservation Genomics is analyzing the cub’s DNA, and we should know definitively in a week or two whether it is a male or female. Stay tuned for that exciting development!

This story appears in the Sept. 25 issue of the Giant Panda Bulletin. Read previous panda updates.

Planning a visit to the Zoo? Please note that Asia Trail—including giant panda viewing—is temporarily closed to visitors for the scheduled repaving of walkways.