Mei Xiang the Panda gives birth to twins at the National Zoo! | Gallery Drinkware

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Mei Xiang the Panda gives birth to twins at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Exciting news for the animal world: Mei Xiang, a much-beloved panda at D.C.'s National Zoo, has given birth to not only one healthy cub, but two! Since pandas are an endangered species, with only approximately 1,800 living in captivity and roughly 350 living in the wild at the present time, this is particularly good news. The National Zoo has not had more than three living pandas at one time in over three decades and now there are five. There have been multiple attempts at breeding panda cubs via artificial insemination (which is how Mei Xiang's twin cubs were conceived) at the National Zoo over recent years, but unfortunately up until now, more cubs have died than survived. Interestingly, pandas do not typically handle multiple births, such as twins, very well and if a mother panda gives birth to twins in the wild, more than likely one of the twins will perish. Panda mothers won't nurse two cubs at once-- it's too challenging to balance nursing, carrying, holding, and caring for two babies at the same time, and so one of the twins will be cared for and the other will be sadly left to die. But zookeepers have worked out a system where they will switch out the twins every few hours for nursing, allowing each of the twins to get the sustenance they need from Mei Xiang. Zookeepers will not bottle-feed the cubs unless absolutely necessary because, just as is true for human babies, mother's milk is the most nutritious and beneficial for the cubs.

Mei Xiang the Panda gives birth to twins!

Although this is a critical period where the cubs' health is still being evaluated, both are showing signs of developing well. Born at 4 and 3 ounces respectively, the cubs are within a healthy weight range for an infant panda and are already demonstrating attachment to Mei Xiang, crying out when taken away from mama. These are indicators of cubs who are thriving so far and developing as they should. It's wonderful to hear such heartwarming news in the endangered species realm after the loss of both Cecil the Lion and Nabire the Rhino. We look forward to hearing updates as these yet-unnamed panda cubs grow!

1 comment

Aug 30, 2015 • Posted by Sherry Carter

This is awesome!!!

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