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#PandaStory: Second Veterinary Exam

  • The Smithsonian's National Zoo's 2-month-old giant panda cub receives his second veterinary exam Oct. 19, 2020.
    The Smithsonian's National Zoo's giant panda cub turned 2 months old Oct. 21.
  • The Smithsonian's National Zoo's 2-month-old giant panda cub receives his second veterinary exam Oct. 19, 2020.
    Zoo veterinarians measured the giant panda cub's abdominal girth. He is as round as he is long!
  • The Smithsonian's National Zoo's 2-month-old giant panda cub receives his second veterinary exam Oct. 19, 2020.
    Zoo veterinarians and keepers are encouraged by the panda cub's progress.

Yesterday, Oct. 21, marked two months since our giant panda cub’s birth. That meant it was time for one of our Zoo veterinarians, Dr. James Steeil, to return to the Panda House to pay him a visit, perform a quick health assessment and administer the cub’s first vaccine.

Dr. Steeil listened to the cub’s heart and lungs, examined his eyes and ears, and palpated his belly, which appeared to be full. When Dr. Steeil administered the canine distemper vaccine, the cub jumped at the initial prick of the needle, but settled down quickly.

Although our cub is not able to walk yet, he can push himself up using his forearms and position his hind legs underneath his hips. He has been crawling, and his coordination improves day by day. We expect in another month or so, he will take his first steps.  

The cub was quite a wiggle worm while we were taking his measurements! Our plump panda is officially as round as he is long. From the tip of his nose to the base of his tail, he remained steady from last week’s measurement of 16.5 inches (42 centimeters). His abdominal girth measured 16.5 inches as well. He gained half-an-inch around his midsection—up from 15.9 inches Oct. 14. His weight increased from 5.4 pounds to 6.5 pounds.

Overall, our cub is making good gains and we are happy that his development is right on track. The exam was a quick one—only 8 minutes long—which was just enough time for mother Mei Xiang to pop outside and enjoy a fruitsicle in the sun.  

This story appears in the Oct. 22 issue of the Giant Panda Bulletin. Watch Mei Xiang and her cub on the Giant Panda Cam, and read previous cub updates here. 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.