Panda mother not swapping in smaller cub

2015-08-25 22:14
Mei Xiang gives birth to her healthy cub. (AP)

Mei Xiang gives birth to her healthy cub. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - A tiny newborn panda cub is getting extra care at the National Zoo after mother Mei Xiang stopped letting animal keepers swap the smaller cub in for feedings as she cares for the larger twin, the zoo said on Tuesday.

Mei Xiang has the larger cub in her possession and appears to be taking very good care of it, the zoo said. Still, the cubs remain in a high-risk period.

The panda team is focusing more intensely on the smaller cub because it has been away from its mother. Zoo officials said the smaller cub's behaviours are good, but the team is concerned about the cub's fluctuating weight.

Keepers are bottle- and tube-feeding the smaller cub and because it has shown some signs of regurgitation, which can lead to aspiration, they also are administering antibiotics.

Because pandas won't usually nurse twins if left to their own devices, officials are trying to switch the cubs every four hours to allow the mother to nurse and bond with one cub at a time. Mei Xiang stopped allowing the cub swap Monday afternoon, but animal keepers will keep trying, the zoo said.

The smaller cub weighed 86g at birth, and the larger cub weighed 138g. According to the zoo, bear cubs have the smallest infant-to-mother size ration of any placental mammals at about 1 to 700. Panda mother Mei Xiang currently weighs about 108kg.

Additional veterinarian staff members have been brought in to assist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, along with an additional panda keeper from Zoo Atlanta to work with the team in Washington.

Animal keepers successfully hand-reared a sloth bear named Remi at the National Zoo last year.

Read more on:    us  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.