Unexpected Panda Twins Born at National Zoo

Giant Panda Mei Xiang of the Smithsonian National Zoo gave birth to twin cubs on August 2nd.  The first cub was born at 5:35pm and much to the surprise of the Zoo staff who were not aware she was pregnant with twins, the second was born at 10:07 pm.  The two cubs are vocalizing well and appear healthy but it is a constant effort by the team to keep them alive.  Mei Xiang is having trouble managing the two babies and is only able to concentrate on one at a time.  Therefore, they have to swap out the cubs and allow them to alternate between being fed and held by the mother and being fed by a bottle from the team.  Panda cubs are extremely fragile and can often be bruised accidently by humans or even the mother.  Their body temperature has to be constantly regulated and the team has to check their fluid and nutrients level regularly.  If Mei Xiang were in the wild it is very likely that one of the cubs would not survive.  However, the team being led by Dr. Don Neiffer, the zoo’s chief veterinarian says they have a plan and will do their best to rise to all challenges that arise.  This is only the third time that a giant panda has given birth to twins in the United States.  We give our best wishes and congratulations to the entire National Zoo team and director Dennis Kelly.  To watch their progress please check out the live feed at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/webcams/giant-panda.cfm or visit their Instagram page @SmithsonianZoo.