(WILDLIFE/ANIMAL NEWS) It’s a girl! The Smithsonian National Zoo officially confirmed that the panda cub born to Mei Xiang two weeks ago is in fact a girl. Sadly, the panda’s sibling, also a girl, was stillborn. But the good news is the surviving baby cub is doing well. Zoo officials say she’s “chatty” and even sporting a little belly. This long awaited news comes after an extensive period of uncertainty, since it is exteremly difficult to tell when a giant panda is pregnant. Read on for more on this adorable birth. – Global Animal
Los Angeles Times, Becca Clemmons
WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian National Zoo announced Thursday that the giant panda cub born there two weeks ago is a girl, is very chatty and “has a fat little belly.”
Scientists confirmed the sex of the cub, which was born to Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG) on Aug. 23, according to a news release.
DNA tests also showed that the zoo’s panda Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) is the father of the cub. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice in late March, with sperm from Tian Tian and from a panda named Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo, after unsuccessful natural breeding attempts with Tian Tian.
The National Zoo said on Twitter that giant panda cubs traditionally are not named until they are 100 days old. It also said that the cub “has a fat little belly” and is very vocal, according to a senior curator, Brandie Smith.
A stillborn panda cub delivered Aug. 24 by Mei Xiang was also female, and tests confirmed that Tian Tian was her father as well, the zoo said.
The National Zoo is among four zoos in the United States that have giant pandas. The new cub is the third born at the zoo to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who are on loan from China through 2015.
Shortly after the birth, the zoo reported that the mother and cub were bonding.
The zoo posts updates about the pandas and hosts a live video feed of them on its website.