Panda cub described as healthy and vibrant
WASHINGTON - The Associated Press
The cub is in excellent health, zookeepers reported after an exam. AP photoThe giant panda cub at Washington’s National Zoo appears to be in excellent health, zookeepers reported after a 10-minute physical exam Sunday morning.
The panda, born Aug. 23, weighs 36 grams, is pink with white fur and wriggled and squealed loudly when it was taken away from its mother, zoo officials said.
A second cub was stillborn Aug. 24, but zookeepers were still overjoyed at the prospect of one healthy cub given that pandas are critically endangered and breeding them in captivity has proved difficult, especially in Washington. The cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, gave birth to her only surviving cub in 2005.
The new cub had a full stomach, and veterinarians reported that it has been digesting its food, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said. Its heartbeat is steady and its lungs appear to be functioning properly.
Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub last year after several years of failed breeding, but the cub died after six days. Following that disappointment, zookeepers changed their protocols for newborn pandas in consultation with Chinese breeders. The plan was for veterinarians to get their hands on the panda within 48 hours of its birth, and after two failed attempts on Aug. 24, panda keeper Marty Dearie was able to pry the cub away from Mei Xiang on Sunday morning.