Smithsonian's National Zoo Welcomes A New Giant Panda Cub

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22-year-old Mei Xiang gave birth to a healthy cub on August 21, 2020 at the National Zoo in Washington, DC (Credit: Rob Page III / CC BY-SA-3.0/ Creativecommons.org)

Bei Bei's 2019 departure from the Smithsonian's National Zoo, to join the giant panda breeding program in China's Wolong Nature Reserve, left a big void for fans. What made the loss of the adorable cub even more poignant was the belief that his mother, Mei Xiang, was too old to have more offspring. However, on August 21, 2020, the 22-year-old proved experts wrong by giving birth to a healthy cub.

"Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and with the birth of this precious cub we are thrilled to offer the world a much-needed moment of pure joy," said Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. "Because Mei Xiang is of advanced maternal age, we knew the chances of her having a cub were slim. However, we wanted to give her one more opportunity to contribute to her species' survival. I am incredibly proud of our animal care, and science teams, whose expertise in giant panda behavior was critical to this conservation success."

Mei Xiang playing with then 7-month old Tai Shan on Feb. 14, 2006, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington (Credit: Shealah Craighead Wikimedia Commons /Public domain)

The zookeepers, who witnessed the "miracle" birth on the live panda camera, say Mei Xiang took to her new offspring instantly and has since been seen lovingly cradling and caring for it. The nurturing is crucial for the survival of the precious cub. Newborn pandas, which weigh just three to five pounds at birth, or about 1/900th the size of their mother, are unable to crawl or see for about two months. They, are therefore, entirely reliant on the mother's warmth, milk, and protection.

It will be several days before the cub, whose gender is still unknown, can be retrieved from the panda enclosure for a thorough neonatal exam. However, thus far, the infant, which can be heard squawking on the live camera feed, appears to be perfectly healthy.

The newborn's parents', Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, are part of the Zoo's cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. Similar to its siblings — Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei — upon turning four, the new baby panda will be sent to China to try to increase the numbers of the vulnerable species, which currently total just 1,864 specimens in the wild,

Resources: nationalzoo.si.edu, CNN.com

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197 Comments
  • ptyne853
    ptyne853Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 9:45 am
    SOOO cute!!
    • letuwike-160528699766
      letuwike-160528699766Monday, December 14, 2020 at 5:37 am
      me too so cute
      • ogbots2
        ogbots2Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 10:49 am
        #sve the pandas
        • maria_goodvibes
          maria_goodvibesWednesday, December 9, 2020 at 10:40 am
          Awwww i love pandas they are so cute!
          • therealsnakes
            therealsnakesSunday, December 6, 2020 at 6:19 am
            Cute
            • zebra0452
              zebra0452Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 6:05 am
              So sweet!! #caring for a cub
              • zebra0452
                zebra0452Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 6:07 am
                I love pandas #pandas rock!
              • mastho000
                mastho000Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 7:30 am
                give me that panda to lol
                • lilstars
                  lilstarsMonday, November 30, 2020 at 8:51 pm
                  Hi this is lilstars. New here but I want to say I love animals. I recently adopted a lion cub through WWF. Promise this is a great website it saves animals and climates. You can also get cute toys and bags.
                  • hakysigi-160529818565
                    hakysigi-160529818565Monday, December 7, 2020 at 6:18 pm
                    That's really cool! I had been wanting to adopt an animal through WWF too!!! That is really cool what you did!
                  • king123omg
                    king123omgSunday, November 29, 2020 at 4:20 am
                    The pandas are cute
                    • skye456
                      skye456Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 7:12 am
                      it's amazing that you can here the pandas squawking on the camera how about you guys.