National Zoo says panda has twins
National Zoo says panda has twins In this photo provided by the Smithsonian's National Zoo, one of the giant panda cubs is examined by veterinarians after being born at Smithsonian's National Zoo on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Washington. The National Zoo in Washington says its adult female panda has had twins. (Becky Malinsky/Smithsonian's National Zoo via AP / Reuters)
National Zoo says panda has twins
Lexile: 1050L
Lexile

Assign to Google Classroom

Please note the update from the National Zoo at the bottom of this article.

It's double trouble for the National Zoo after its adult female panda gave birth to twins.
 
The cubs arrived about five hours apart Saturday (Aug. 22). Panda mom Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) gave birth to the first cub at 5:35 p.m. The second arrived at 10:07 p.m., the zoo said. If the cubs survive, they would be the 17-year-old panda's third and fourth surviving offspring.
 
Mei Xiang's first cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and returned to China in 2010. Her second cub, Bao Bao, turned 2 years old Sunday and still lives at the zoo. It is in Washington.
 
The new additions mean that for the first time, the zoo has five pandas in residence. In addition to Bao Bao, Mei Xiang and the new cubs, the zoo is also home to an adult male panda named Tian Tian. In the past, the zoo has never had more than three pandas at one time.
 
Zoo director Dennis Kelly said following the first cub's birth that he was "so happy, so pleased, so excited." The zoo's chief veterinarian Don Neiffer was also asked about the possibility of a second cub. In 2013, when Mei Xiang gave birth to Bao Bao, she also gave birth to a stillborn cub. Asked about the possibility of a second cub this time around, Neiffer said that during an ultrasound earlier in the week, he did see "two areas that made me excited."
 
The zoo says after the second cub was born, keepers removed one of the cubs and moved it to an incubator. The zoo says it will alternately swap the cubs. That will allow one the time to nurse and spend time with Mei Xiang while the other is bottle-fed. The zoo said it could not confirm whether the cub that was removed was the first or second born. It says pandas give birth to twins about 50 percent of the time, but this is only the third time a giant panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.
 
Keepers will be watching the newest cubs closely. Pink, hairless and blind, newborn cubs weigh three to five ounces. They are about the size of a stick of butter.
 
Kelly, the zoo director, called it a "very fragile time."
 
"We're very excited, but we're very cautious," he said before the second cub's birth. He noted that in 2012, Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub that died after just six days. Its lungs hadn't fully developed.
 
Still, Neiffer, the zoo's chief veterinarian, said the first cub had shown "all signs of being healthy and happy." Keepers have heard it squeal and grunt. The zoo said on Twitter that the second cub also appeared healthy.
 
Even if the new cubs are physically fit, panda fans shouldn't expect to see them in person for a while. After Bao Bao was born in 2013, it was about 5 months before she made her public debut. Fans who want to see the newest pandas will have to try to catch a glimpse of them on the zoo's online panda cameras. Though the zoo's camera-viewing site can host about 850 viewers at a time, spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson says the site has been overloaded with people trying to watch. Fans can also download a zoo app to view the cameras.
 
The public also won't learn immediately whether the cubs are male or female or whether the zoo's male panda, Tian Tian, is the cub's father. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated with sperm from Tian Tian and a panda named Hui Hui from Wolong, China, who was determined to be one of the best genetic matches.
 
The zoo will use saliva from the cubs' mouths to determine gender and paternity, said Laurie Thompson, a giant panda biologist at the zoo.
 
The National Zoo is one of only four zoos nationwide to have pandas. The animals are on loan from China. The cubs are the only ones born in the United States this year. Pandas also have a history at the National Zoo that makes them closely watched.
 
The zoo's first pair of pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were a gift from China. They arrived following President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to the country. The pair had five cubs while living at the zoo but none survived.
 
The zoo's current pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the parents of both Bao Bao and Tai Shan, arrived in 2000. The pandas belong to China as do any cubs they have.
 
The cubs' birth wasn't the only event being celebrated at the zoo. For Bao Bao's second birthday, she received a cake made out of frozen fruits and vegetables with the number "2'' on top. She will stay at the zoo until she is four years old when she will return to China.

Update from Smithsonian National Zoo (August 26th):

The smaller of the two giant panda cubs born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo has died. 

Giant pandas give birth to twins approximately 50 percent of the time. This is only the third time a giant panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.
  
At the birth of the second cub on August 22, Mei Xiang demonstrated that she was challenged to care for both cubs. The collective scientific knowledge about giant panda mothers is that they are best able to care for one cub at a time.

Folowing their protocol, the panda team alternately swapped the cubs. They were allowing one to nurse and spend time with Mei Xiang while the other was bottle fed and kept warm in an incubator. The primary goal for the panda team was for both cubs to have the benefit of nursing and spending time with their mother. 

The panda team continues to monitor Mei Xiang and the larger cub via the Panda Cams. They are encouraged that this cub appears to be strong and robust, and that it is behaving normally. 

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/national-zoo-says-panda-has-twins/

Filed Under:  
Assigned 16 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are officials being cautious?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (155)
  • mattv-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    The officials of the zoo are being cautious because this species of Panda are near extinction. If the cubs do not survive, then it has a higher chance of going extinct than if they survive.

  • ethanb-1-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    Officials are being cautious because this type of animal rarely has twins ,so they are trying to be cautious to ensure their safety.

  • coled-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    CTQ: The officials are being cautious because the newborn pandas have very fragile bodies, and can be easily hurt.

  • austina-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Officials are being cautious because in 2012 Mei Xiang had a cub that died six days after birth because its lungs where not fully developed.

  • garretta-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Officials are being cautious because panda populations have deteriorated. As well as panda cubs are about the size of a stick of butter,officials have to be extremely aware of any medical conditions.

  • kolbyd-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    They are cautious because when giant pandas are born they are very fragile. They are born weighing 5 ounces and a bout the size of a stick of butter

  • elizabetht-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    Officials are cautious so that maybe the cubs would have survived. Sadly, only one of the two cubs survived. Also due to this being a "fragile time" for the cubs. Mostly because the cubs themselves are born hairless and blind.

  • kyleighp-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:17 p.m.

    The officials are being cautious because Mei Xiang has had cubs die before. They are also being cautious because a giant panda only is able to care for one cub at a time and about 50% of the time, they have twins.

  • hannaha-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:17 p.m.

    Officials are being cautious because in 2012 Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub and after six days, it died. The cub's lungs hadn't fully grown yet.

  • mimir-fel
    9/14/2015 - 02:18 p.m.

    The officials are being cautious about the pandas cubs because as they state "it is a fragile time." It is also only the third time a panda in the US has given birth to twins. Also, in the past a cub has died from their lungs not being fully developed. While this is not the case for the newest additions, the mother can only take care of one cub at a time.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT