Panda twins’ survival rate has skyrocketed, but some cubs still don’t thrive

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Giant panda cub dies at National Zoo, twin doing well.

The smaller of the two newborn pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., has died nearly four days after its birth, zoo officials announced Wednesday.

In this photo provided by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, one of two newborn giant pandas born Saturday, Aug. 22, is cared for by a member of the panda team at the zoo on Monday. — One of the twin giant panda cubs born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo died Wednesday around 2 p.m., but the larger of the cubs appears to be “strong, robust, behaving normally,” zoo officials said. The zoo’s adult female panda Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) gave birth to the first cub Saturday at 5:35 p.m. and a second cub about five hours later after being artificially inseminated in April.

Veterinarians were administering antibiotics to prevent possible infection and keeping the smaller cub hydrated by alternating an infant electrolyte solution with formula and administering fluids under the skin, WUSA-TV reported. Because pandas won’t usually nurse twins if left to their own devices, breeders have adopted a practice where every several hours they swap the cubs, giving each one time with its mother.

The zoo’s first pair of pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were a gift from China following President Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 visit to the country. The zoo said the cub had “shown some signs” of regurgitating the liquids it was being fed, which could lead to the cub inhaling liquid into its lungs. The zoo has said in the past that the mortality rate for pandas in their first year in human care is 26 per cent for males and 20 per cent for females.

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