July 22, 2011
Today, the ATM blog team has some bad news, some good news, and some better news. The bad news is that Mei Xiang, the Zoo’s giant panda, has been experiencing a pseudo, or false, pregnancy these past few months meaning we will not be having a baby panda cub this year. More bad news is that it’s scorching hot outside. And freezing cold inside. The good news is that it’s also Friday, which gives most people a reason to smile. The better news is that there are four new red panda cubs at the National Zoo and they are adorable.
Last month, on June 17, Shama, the female red panda, gave birth to two cubs in her den at the National Zoo’s Asia Trail in Washington, D.C. This was a few weeks after Lao Mei, the female red panda at the Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. gave birth to two female cubs on June 5. After the cubs were born, Zoo staff left the mothers alone to bond with and care for their cubs, confirming the births only about a week afterwards.
It’s been a little over a month and Zoo staffers are still having minimal interaction with the cubs at this critical time, performing health checks whenever possible. They report that “all four newborns are steadily gaining weight and appear healthy.”
The red panda exhibit is currently closed to visitors to ensure to safety of the well-being of the mother and her cubs, but they expect Shama will allow the cubs to venture out in early fall. As they watch the cubs grow stronger, staff will then decide when the exhibit can be reopened to the public.
More than 100 surviving red panda cubs that have been born at the National Zoo facilities since 1962.
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