Panda cub not crushed by mother, zoo reports

Panda cub not crushed by mother, zoo reports

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Panda cub not crushed by mother, zoo reports

The cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, did not crush her baby, an autopsy has revealed. AFP photo

The body of the week-old baby panda that died suddenly Sept. 23 showed no sign of trauma, meaning it was not crushed by its mother, the Washington National Zoo said Sept. 24. Keepers and volunteers realized something was wrong when they heard sounds of distress from the cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, Sunday morning, the zoo said in a statement.

An autopsy found that the giant panda cub, which had not been named, weighed less than 100 grams, or about four ounces, and appeared to be a female, the zoo said.

“There were no signs of trauma, external or internal, which means that she was not crushed, confirmation that Mei is a good mother,” the zoo said in a statement posted on its website.

“Her heart and lungs also looked good, which tells us that she did not suffocate. There was a little milk in the cub’s gastrointestinal tract, which tells us that she did successfully nurse.” The only abnormalities detected were some fluid in her abdomen and a slightly abnormal liver.

“They don’t know yet whether either of those things is significant, and they’re still investigating,” the zoo said.
Mei gave birth on Sept. 16, causing a sensation because of the rarity of panda births in captivity.

Zoo officials wanted Mei to raise the baby as naturally as possible, but used a webcam to keep them under surveillance with a webcam. The zoo stopped streaming the images after the panda cub’s death.
Giant pandas are an endangered species. There are only 1,600 in the wild in China and 300 in captivity around the world.