Panda Cub Is a Girl and Starting to Get Its Black Markings



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It’s a girl! 

The national
zoo announced today the giant panda baby born Aug. 24 to momma Mei Xiang is
a
girl and Tian Tian, the male panda at the National Zoo, fathered the new born.

“We have
another girl in our family,” research scientist Jesus Maldonado said
today. “We conducted genetic analysis…and we are proud to announce that
the sire is Tian Tian.” 

Maldonado is
a spokesman for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and he spoke at
its center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics. 

During the
artificial insemination process in late March semen was used from both the
Washington panda male Tian Tian and a San Diego male, Gao Gao. 

Zoo
officials say the young cub grows stronger and healthier every day.

  • The National Zoo announced this
    morning the giant panda baby born August 24 to momma Mei Xiang is a girl
    and Tian Tian , the male panda at the National Zoo fathered the new born.
“The 10
day mark was really critical in terms of survival,” Brandie Smith, senior
curator of mammals and giant pandas for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.
“She’s passed that 10 day mark and we watch her grow stronger and
healthier every single day, so we are finally starting to really
celebrate.” 

The baby,
according to Zoo officials, has “a fat little belly” and is
“very active.”

“It’s
very vocal. If it needs anything it definitely lets Mei Xiang and the rest of
us know that it needs something,” Smith said. “Mei Xiang has been a
great mother taking care of it.” 

The
officials finally were able to do a quick look at the cub this morning and see
she is gaining some fuzz and markings. 

“When
it was born it was just kind of pale pink, not many markings,” Smith
said.”We’re starting to see it’s a little bit fuzzy and it’s got those
great black and white markings that are coming in. So the eye and the ear spots
started first, but now we can see the saddle forming across its back… she is
just beautiful.” 

The Zoo will
follow Chinese tradition in naming the new cub–meaning they will wait 100 days
after birth to pick the new Chinese name.

They plan to
work with their Chinese colleagues and hope to engage DC residents to help
choose the name. 

They also
plan to allow the cub to wean naturally, and since the process can take about
two years, Mei Xiang is likely to remain in Washington at least that long.

The genetic
analysis also determined the stillborn cub, also female, was the fraternal twin
to the healthy cub. 

It will be
another four months or so before the baby girl and her mom are available to the
public. According to the National
Zoo website
, female pandas can produce young every other year at best and
may only raise five to eight cubs in their lifetime.

Read more: abcnews

 

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