Washington, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a “wiggly cub” on Friday at the National Zoo in the United States capital, her caregivers said.
The joyous moment of the mother panda giving birth to a bundle of joy at an advanced age nearly of 22 years was caught on a camera and clips posted on social media networks to attract millions of likes and shares.
Based on data from scientists in China and other zoos with pandas, females can breed into their early 20s.
“A precious giant panda cub has arrived. Mei Xiang gave birth at 6.35 pm and is caring for her newborn attentively,” the zoo said in a statement.
The zoo gave “three cheers for Mei Xiang” who “graced us with a glimpse of her wonderful, wiggly cub.”
“Because Mei Xiang is of advanced maternal age, we knew the chances of her having a cub were slim. However, we wanted to give her one more opportunity to contribute to her species’ survival.”
The zoo said that the mother panda picked the cub up immediately after its birth and began cradling and caring for it. “The panda team heard the cub vocalize.”
“Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and with the birth of this precious cub we are thrilled to offer the world a much-needed moment of pure joy,” said zoo director Steve Monfort.
Mei Xiang has given birth to three surviving cubs: Tai Shan, Bao Bao, and Bei Bei.
Tai Shan was born July 9, 2005, and moved to China in February 2010. Bao Bao was born on Aug. 23, 2013, and moved to China in February 2017. Bei Bei was born on Aug. 22, 2015, and moved to China in November 2019.
The zoo still does not know the gender of the newborn cub because external genitalia in bears doesn’t develop until the bear is several months old”.
“The best, and most reliable, way to determine a bear cub’s sex is through DNA analysis,” according to the zookeepers.
It said that the keepers were tracking the cub’s evolution through cameras and will examine it as soon as they can get hold of it.
“A neonatal exam will be performed when keepers are able to retrieve the cub, which may take a few days. The sex of the cub will not be determined until a later date.”
The bear was artificially inseminated on March 22 with frozen semen from Tian Tian, ??the zoo’s male panda.
The giant pandas of Washington, Mei Xiang, and Tian Tian, ??23, were donated by China and are the authentic attraction and symbol of the publicly-owned zoo.
Mei Xiang turned 22 years old on July 22. She is the oldest giant panda in the US and the second oldest documented in the world to give birth, according to the zoo.
This is Mei Xiang’s sixth cub in Washington, although two died shortly after their birth. EFE-EPA