Panda gives birth at National Zoo - New York News

Panda gives birth at National Zoo

Posted: Updated:
National Zoo image National Zoo image

KASEY JONES | AP

A giant panda gave birth at Washington's National Zoo on Friday, causing a buzz among fans as they flocked to a panda cam's live feed to hear the cub squeal and watch the mother immediately start caring for it.

The zoo said Mei Xiang gave birth at 5:32 p.m. Friday, two hours after her water broke. Zoo officials said the panda team heard the cub vocalize and that the mother picked it up immediately and began cradling and caring for it.

"WE HAVE A CUB!! Born at 5:32 p.m. this evening," the zoo tweeted.

"I'm glued to the new panda cams and thrilled to hear the squeals, which appear healthy, of our newborn cub," said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Fans of the 15-year-old panda who had been tracking her suspected pregnancy on a Giant Panda Cam flocked to the live feed.

With the zoo heralding the cub's birth on Twitter, the pandas' excited fans responded in kind. Congratulations poured in under the hashtag "cubwatch," including hopes that this year's cub would survive. "Last year was so heartbreaking," as one person tweeted, while another said, "Good luck, little Butterstick 2 !!!"

Mei Xiang had previously given birth to two cubs. Tai Shan was born in 2005 and a week-old cub died last September.

Panda cubs are especially delicate and vulnerable to infection and other illness. They are about the size of a stick of butter at birth. The first weeks of life are critical for the cubs as mothers have to make sure they stay warm and get enough to eat.

Zookeepers said at a news conference on Friday night that giant pandas give birth to twins 50 percent of the time, so they will continue to keep an eye on Mei Xiang for 24 hours.

Brandie Smith, curator of mammals at the zoo, said Friday night that mindful of last year's loss, zookeepers will be more hands-on with this cub.

"We know that Mei Xiang is an excellent mother," Smith said. "When she has a cub, she will take care of it."

Smith said that will zookeepers don't want to disturb the bonding between the mother and cub, but they will take the risk and do an assessment of the cub within the first 48 hours.

The biggest concern is the cub's weight, Smith said, and that it continues to gain weight. Zookeepers will also be listening for healthy squeals from the cub, and signs and sounds that it is nursing.

The panda team will perform health checks every few days. Its gender was not immediately known.

Mei Xiang is expected to spend almost all of her time in her den for the next two weeks with her new cub.

The zoo has been on round-the-clock panda watch since Aug. 7, when Mei Xiang began showing behavioral changes consistent with a pregnancy or pseudo-pregnancy.

A Chinese panda expert performed artificial inseminations on Mei Xiang on March 30 after she failed to breed naturally with male panda Tian Tian.

Zookeepers had not been certain that Mei Xiang was pregnant, because she refused to cooperate with attempts to perform an ultrasound.

The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat, which has been closed to the public since Aug. 2, will remain closed to provide quiet time for Mei Xiang and her cub.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 6:21 AM EDT2014-04-23 10:21:15 GMT
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
    A NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
  • Caesars enters New York casino competition

    Caesars enters New York casino competition

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:52 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:52:22 GMT
    Caesars Entertainment entered the competition to open a casino in upstate New York on Tuesday with a proposal to build a $750 million complex 50 miles north of New York City. The complex would include a casino, a hotel and a meeting space and would be located in Woodbury, in Orange County. The Las Vegas-based Caesars, which operates 52 casinos around the world, has submitted a $1 million casino license application fee to state gambling regulators.
    Caesars Entertainment entered the competition to open a casino in upstate New York on Tuesday with a proposal to build a $750 million complex 50 miles north of New York City. The complex would include a casino, a hotel and a meeting space and would be located in Woodbury, in Orange County. The Las Vegas-based Caesars, which operates 52 casinos around the world, has submitted a $1 million casino license application fee to state gambling regulators.
  • Hoax 'swatting' call sends dozens of cops to LI home

    Hoax 'swatting' call sends dozens of cops to LI home

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-04-23 02:43:53 GMT
    Heavily armed police officers descended on a home in Long Beach, Long Island, Tuesday afternoon thinking they might find a grisly murder scene. Instead they found a terrified woman who had no clue what they were talking about and her teenaged son playing video games. "We received a phone call from a gentleman who stated he had just shot his mother and his brother," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said. "Unfortunately, this is a terrible national problem for law enforcement."
    Heavily armed police officers descended on a home in Long Beach, Long Island, Tuesday afternoon thinking they might find a grisly murder scene. Instead they found a terrified woman who had no clue what they were talking about and her teenaged son playing video games. "We received a phone call from a gentleman who stated he had just shot his mother and his brother," Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said. "Unfortunately, this is a terrible national problem for law enforcement."
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices