New Baby: Giant Panda Gives Birth at the National Zoo!

The first cub is healthy and doing well. Mei Xiang gave birth to a second, stillborn cub on Saturday

Baby panda cub
The Zoo reports that the “cub’s heart rate is steady and its belly was full.” Veterinarians report that they “could hear breath sounds from both lungs.” Courtney Janney, Smithsonian National Zoo

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: During the panda cub’s first neonatal exam earlier today, veterinarians say that the new cub’s weight is normal at 4.83 ounces and that it’s overall health was good. “The cub is nursing & digesting well. It is very active, very vibrant & very pink,” Zoo officials reporter via Twitter. The cub’s sex will be determined at a later date.

UPDATE AUGUST 25: The Zoo reports that at 7:29 on August 24, Mei Xiang gave birth to a second, stillborn cub. “It had developmental abnormalities, wasn’t fully formed & was never alive,” the Zoo stated via Twitter. The mother panda “groomed the stillborn cub for 17 minutes” before she released the motionless cub. Staff retrieved the body to perform a necropsy. The first cub continues to do well and staff report hearing its vocalizations. Panda cam viewers are being asked to post their best screen grabs on the Zoo’s dedicated new cub Flickr page.

UPDATE 5:53 p.m.: The Zoo is reporting that Mei gave birth to a cub at 5:32 p.m. tonight: “Mei Xiang picked the cub up immediately and began cradling and caring for it.” Congratulations, Mei!

Watch the birth:

Giant Panda Mei Xiang Gives Birth at Smithsonian's National Zoo

UPDATE  5:15 p.m.: The Zoo is receiving heavy traffic on its panda cam. Officials say they are doing everything they can to keep the cams up and running. The initial tw0-hour labor estimate may have been overly optimistic. The Zoo is now saying that labor could take as long as 10 hours.

Screen capture of the Zoo’s panda camera.

UPDATE 5:oo p.m.: Mei just rolled over and put her leg up on the wall around her nest. She’s having contractions.

All eyes have been on the female panda this past month and just now, the female giant panda Mei Xiang is going into labor. Her water broke and Zoo officials say that she is within two hours of delivering her third cub.

Watch it live now on the National Zoo’s giant panda cam. Or download the Zoo’s app and get steady updates over the course of the evening.

The 15-year-old female giant panda Mei Xiang began building her nest in early July. All photos courtesy of the National Zoo

Both Mei Xiang (foreground) and Tian Tian, also 15 years old, successfully sired two cubs, but one died suddenly last summer. Mei underwent an artificial insemination procedure earlier this year and was given both fresh and frozen sperm from Tian.

Mei Xiang was also artificially inseminated with the frozen sperm of Gao Gao, the giant panda from the San Diego Zoo.

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