PETA condemns National Zoo for splitting panda twins

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baby pandas born and bred at National Zoo are not birthright citizens.

A tiny newborn panda cub is getting extra care at the National Zoo in Washington DC after mom Mei Xiang stopped letting animal keepers swap the smaller cub in for feedings as she cares for the larger twin, the zoo said Tuesday.Mei Xiang, the panda who gave birth to twin cubs on Saturday, has not been “a willing participant” in swapping out the cubs for nursing and care, National Zoo officials posted Tuesday in a Facebook update to fans.

They fawn over their inclination to make even laziness look so darned cute and covet their ability to draw thousands of visitors who buy plush toys and faux panda ears. To compensate, the panda team at the zoo intervened and has been alternating each cub with the mother every few hours. “Our observations of the larger cub from yesterday indicate it is doing well, and we’re confident Mei Xiang is taking very good care of it,” they said in the post. “The little cub’s behaviors are good. If they survive a tenuous period of infancy and reach sexual maturity in three or four years, there is a good chance the Chinese government will summon them home to breed. The cuddly looking bears’ popularity, the millions it costs to house and feed them, and the Chinese government’s ability to control their whereabouts, make pandas one of the most complex animals for a zoo to keep. “At the end of the day, it’s a huge business deal for China,” said Ron Magill, who has served for 36 years as the communications director for Zoo Miami, which does not have pandas.

To accomplish this, they are bottle and tube feeding the cub,” the Facebook post said. “The cub has shown some signs of regurgitation which can lead to aspiration in such a tiny creature. Because pandas won’t usually nurse twins if left to their own devices, officials are trying to switch the cubs every four hours to allow the mother to nurse and bond with one cub at a time. Yes, they are expensive to maintain and exhibit, but they are a tremendous draw,” said David Walsh, president of Zoo Advisors, who has consulted for more than 50 zoos, including Atlanta. “It does make economic sense, if you have the right market.” The San Diego Zoo, often ranked among the world’s best, says it has spent more than $40 million maintaining giant pandas since 1996, plus $5.8 million on a giant panda exhibit.

Additional veterinarian staff members have been brought in to assist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, along with an additional panda keeper from Zoo Atlanta to work with the team in Washington. The maintenance costs include fees to China and other extraordinary expenses, including food, which can run tens of thousands of dollars a year. “You have to grow bamboo.

On Tuesday, the cub continued to require special care from staff, drawing concern over fluctuation weight and “signs of regurgitation” which has prompted more tube feeding. Outside the panda exhibit this week, three signs were hoisted on barricades informing visitors that the panda house was closed—but just the birth announcement drew a few visitors. It will be several months before the new cubs make a public appearance. “I thought we should go to D.C. to check out the pandas…I just have disappointment to share,” said Diane Ma, who traveled to the zoo from Chicago after the twin births were announced.

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