The cub is not much to see at the moment because Panda cubs are the one of the smallest births to occur among mammals. Babies are only about 1/900th the size of their mothers, only marsupials give birth to smaller young. Panda cubs are unable to move on their own and are completely dependent on their mom for warmth, food, and protection.
Mei Xiang has been more protective of the cub in the past few days and has not allowed the vet staff to take the cub from her for an exam. Keepers say the baby sounds healthy and they are continually observing the pair on the panda cams.
The Smithsonian National Zoo announced earlier today that their female panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub at 5:32 pm!
You can watch the Panda cam on the national zoo’s website here.
(photo of Mei Xiang: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Behavior watchers were observing her 24 hours a day via their panda cams since August 7 as she began to exhibit more and more signs that she would be giving birth. The cub will receive a preliminary exam in the next 48 hours, and continue to receive regular health checks. This is the panda’s third cub, her first cub survived and now lives in china while her second cub died of liver failure.
You can read more about all that goes into testing for panda pregnancy, how she got that way, and the video of her giving birth at the panda blog.
The giant panda cams at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo went down for maintenance but are now back in full HD, with uninterrupted video! You can currently watch on their website at AnimalCams on your computer, tablet, or phone.
The female panda Mei Xiang might be pregnant, but since cubs are born so small it is impossible to tell on ultrasound until the final weeks of gestation – you can follow cub updates on twitter at #CubWatch.
You can see the video of Mei’s latest ultrasound, which she voluntarily participates in when she wants (she gets treats for it of course). Even though it is too early to see if she is having a cub the training involved in making such a medical procedure happen is quite interesting:
Again, you can watch all the adorable panda action on the Smithsonian’s website at AnimalCams.
The panda couple at the Washington National Zoo, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who are on loan from the Chinese government have been allowed to stay in the US for another 5 years. This is very good news for the US and for panda kind. Hopefully we will see new baby pandas soon!
The original agreement for the pair was for ten years at a cost of $10 million dollars – which went to panda conservation in China. The new agreement rests on the condition that the pair will breed again, and if not one or both of the pandas can be exchanged for another in the hopes of baby pandas. Their first baby, Tai Shan, born in 2005 was a hit at the zoo but all babies of this loaned panda pair must be returned to China and so Tai Shan went back in February of 2010.