Panda

The Neonatal Check-Up Of The Spanish Panda Twins Confirms Their Good Health

Madrid, September 7, 2021 - After the twin birth of pandas yesterday at Spain’s Zoo Aquarium Madrid, the technical and veterinary team of Zoo Aquarium Madrid in close collaboration with the two breeding technicians of the Chengdu Giant Panda Base, have carried out the first neonatal examination in which the umbilical cord was tied and disinfected and they were weighed, with 171.4 and 137.4 grams, respectively. As for sex, it is still unknown since the sexual characteristics are not very marked yet. In the coming days, Chengdu technicians will be able to confirm it with greater confidence.

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The first eight weeks will be vital for these delicate babies that will be exchanged in an incubator to ensure, individually, the breastfeeding of both in a space where they will enjoy greater tranquility and well-being that will facilitate their development little by little, thus ensuring their survival. Until they open their eyes, begin to pigment their skin in about 20 days and replace the hair with the white lanugo that covers them in these first days.

It will not be until approximately two and a half months, when they are usually strong enough, when you can see them and choose a name with Spanish-Chinese symbolism that will be submitted to a vote through the social networks of the Madrid Zoo.

The preservation of the Giant Panda in the world

The conservation program, outside its place of origin, carried out at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium is of vital importance for the survival of this species (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) which, thanks to the efforts of breeding centers and zoological institutions of everyone has managed to reduce their threat category from Danger to Vulnerable, according to the IUCN.

Through the Parques Reunidos Foundation, the Madrid Zoo collaborates with the National Forest Service of China and the China Giant Panda Conservation Office in the conservation and reforestation of panda habitat. This project contributes directly to the protection of 67 nature reserves with a total habitat of more than 1.3 million hectares.


TWO Giant Pandas Born At Zoo Beauval Last Night!

The long-awaited happy event at ZooParc de Beauval has finally arrived!

After long hours of waiting, female Panda Huan Huan, gave birth to twins on Monday, August 2.


The first was born at 1:03am, the second at 1:10am. They are very bright, pink and plump.

The first weighs 149 g. The second weighs 129 g. Everything happened very quickly: the birth took place about thirty minutes Huan Huan’s water broke. Huan Huan is taking great care of her cubs. She took them in her mouth to lick them and clean them. Little cries could be heard! After 8 hours of labor for Huan Huan, the ZooParc team erupted with joy at the sight of these little bears.

This double birth is the happy outcome of a gestation that began last March, following the contact between Yuan Zi and Huan Huan followed by artificial insemination carried out by animal reproduction specialists from Leibniz-IZW Thomas Hildebrandt and Frank Goeritz and by Jella Wauters, Belgian veterinarian from Ghent University and Leibniz-IZW.

At 5 p.m., installed in her farrowing lodge, Huan Huan began going into labor. Then begins the setting up of teams to ensure the best calving conditions for the female. In a corridor, in front of the lodge, the two Chinese carers constantly watch over her and scrutinize her every gesture and attitude. They speak Chinese to her, and gently encourage her. Mao Min took care of Huan Huan and Yuan Zi when they were 6 months old. Both carefully note all observations on a statement. At the same time, they check all the equipment and incubators that will accommodate the little ones.

The veterinarians, Baptiste M and Antoine L, are also at the bedside of Huan Huan to analyze the progress of the labor. They interpret signs and changes in posture. Some healers from the panda sector and an ethologist are also present to note in real time all the attitudes: back against the wall, rolling in a ball, putting on the back ... In the screening room, concentration and tension are palpable as the birth approaches. All eyes are on the monitors. Calm is felt. Only whispers break the silence.

“Everyone is focused and knows exactly what to do. You don't always need to talk to understand each other between caretakers and veterinarians,” declares Delphine Delord, associate director of ZooParc de Beauval, at peace knowing birth can mean waiting long hours.

But suddenly, Huan Huan's behavior changes. The first contractions appear. They intensify over the hours. The female remains in a seated position most of the time with her head between her paws. The hours pass then, suddenly, the the first baby is born takes place!

Huan Huan reacts very quickly and immediately takes care of her first baby. Her gestures are sure. 

“More experienced than 4 years ago, she knows how to go about it, she protects him. Moreover, we see that she does not want to let go,” rejoices Rodolphe Delord, very moved by this double birth. Then after a few minutes, the second is also born very quickly, so much so that it is difficult to see it on the screens. 

How many does Huan Huan have in her mouth?!

Finally, the doubt is quickly removed: Huan Huan has 2 babies! 

A round of applause then arose. 

“We have just experienced a moment of rare intensity. These births are still exceptional, but they also have their share of surprises! We rejoice in the liveliness of babies, felt from their first moments. These births are also the fruit of the efforts of all our teams, who do their utmost to provide the animals with maximum welfare,” explains Delphine Delord, associate director of the Zooparc de Beauval.

Now the night is well under way. A few cries of nocturnal animals can be heard in the distance. It is now time to let Huan Huan rest and let the little ones experience their first moments… under the watchful eye of the teams.


His Name Is Xiao Qi Ji

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s 3-month-old giant panda cub received his name today. After five days of voting and just under 135,000 votes, the winning name is Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), which translates as “little miracle” in English. It was one of four Mandarin Chinese names that were offered for a public online vote from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 on the Zoo’s website. Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and Xiao Qi Ji’s birth offered the world a much-needed moment of joy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. His name reflects the extraordinary circumstances under which he was born and celebrates the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species.

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“Connecting people around the world with nature, whether in person or in this virtual setting, is a cornerstone of our mission to conserve and protect giant pandas for future generations,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “Like many who have followed our giant panda cub since his birth last summer, I tune in to the Giant Panda Cam from time to time. Watching Xiao Qi Ji always puts a smile on my face. We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub.”

Xiao Qi Ji was born at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat Aug. 21, at 6:35 p.m. to mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN). His birth was streamed live on the Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam, and since then more than 1.5 million virtual visitors have tuned in to watch him grow. Giant panda fans can see Xiao Qi Ji, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian via the Giant Panda Cam, one of five live animal webcams hosted on the Zoo’s website. The Zoo will continue to provide updates on Xiao Qi Ji on its website, on social media using the hashtags #PandaStory and #PandaCubdates and in the Giant Panda e-newsletter.

As part of the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the Zoo move to China when they are 4 years old. The Zoo’s current cooperative breeding agreement expires in December 2020. The Zoo is currently discussing the arrangement of the giant pandas beyond Dec. 7 with colleagues in China.

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is closed to the public.

Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo


Public Can Vote To Name Smithsonian’s National Zoo Giant Panda Cub

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is asking the public to help name the male giant panda cub, now 9.2 pounds of adorable, at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. The Aug. 21 birth was streamed live on the Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam, and since then more than 1 million virtual visitors have tuned in to watch him grow. Voters can select their favorite name from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 on the Zoo’s website (maximum one vote per day). The name that receives the most votes will be bestowed on the cub. The Zoo will announce the winning name Nov. 23.

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Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and the birth of this cub offered the world a much-needed moment of joy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The possible names—chosen by the Zoo and Chinese partners—reflect the extraordinary circumstances under which this cub was born and celebrate the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species. The possible cub names are:

  • Fu Zai (福仔) [fu-tzai]—prosperous boy
  • Xiao Qi ji (小奇迹) [shiau-chi-ji]—little miracle
  • Xing Fu (幸福) [shing-fu]—happy and prosperous
  • Zai Zai (仔仔) [tzai-tzai]—a traditional Chinese nickname for a boy

The Zoo will continue to provide updates on the cub on its website, on social media using the hashtags #PandaStory and #PandaCubdates and in the Giant Panda e-newsletter. Giant panda fans can see the cub, mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) via the Giant Panda Cam on the Zoo’s website. It is one of five live animal webcams hosted on the Zoo’s website.

At 22 years old, mother Mei Xiang is the oldest giant panda in the United States to give birth. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute reproductive scientists and Zoo veterinarians performed an artificial insemination on Mei Xiang March 22 with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian, who turned 23 years old Aug. 27. This is the first time a zoo in the United States has experienced a successful pregnancy and birth via artificial insemination using only frozen semen. Zoo veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on an ultrasound Aug. 14 and Aug. 17.

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has updated its hours and entry requirements. The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is currently closed to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub. Asia Trail—including giant panda viewing—is temporarily closed to visitors for the scheduled repaving of walkways.

In addition to this cub, Mei Xiang has given birth to three surviving offspring: Tai Shan (tie-SHON), Bao Bao (BOW BOW) and Bei Bei (BAY BAY). Tai Shan was born July 9, 2005, and moved to China February 2010. Bao Bao was born Aug. 23, 2013, and moved to China in February 2017. Bei Bei was born Aug. 22, 2015, and moved to China in November 2019. As part of the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the Zoo move to China when they are 4 years old. The Zoo’s current cooperative breeding agreement expires in December 2020.

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Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo


It’s a Boy! Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cub Is Male

 

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s 6-week-old giant panda cub is a male, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) scientists confirmed. During the cub’s first veterinary exam Sept. 19, Zoo veterinarians obtained a swab from his cheek for DNA analysis. Outwardly, male and female cubs appear similar at birth, so a genetic test was the most accurate way to determine the cub’s sex. Veterinarians brought the swab to SCBI’s Center for Conservation Genomics, where scientists sequenced a short fragment of the zinc finger protein gene. The X and Y chromosomes both have this gene, with slightly different DNA sequences. Scientists determined that the swab sample taken by the Zoo’s veterinarians has both sequences present—confirming that the cub is male. A painting created by male giant panda Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), the cub’s father, was used to reveal the sex of the cub to giant panda keepers and fans online.

The Zoo will continue to provide updates on the cub on its website, on social media using the hastags #PandaStory and PandaCubdates and in the Giant Panda e-newsletter. Giant panda fans can see the cub, mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian via the Giant Panda Cam on the Zoo’s website.

Zoo veterinarians say that the cub appears to be healthy and strong. During a brief exam conducted by the panda team Oct. 1, keepers took the cub’s measurements. He weighed 3.6 pounds and measured 14 inches from nose to tail tip. His abdominal girth was 12.5 inches. Both of the cub’s eyes are starting to open. Keepers are encouraged by his progress.  

At 22 years old, mother Mei Xiang is the oldest giant panda in the United States and the second oldest documented in the world to give birth. SCBI reproductive scientists and Zoo veterinarians performed an artificial insemination on Mei Xiang March 22 with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian, who turned 23 years old Aug. 27. This is the first time a zoo in the United States has experienced a successful pregnancy and birth via artificial insemination using only frozen semen. Zoo veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on an ultrasound Aug. 14 and Aug. 17.

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has updated its hours and entry requirements. The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is currently closed to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub. Asia Trail—including giant panda viewing—is temporarily closed to visitors for the scheduled repaving of walkways.

In addition to this cub, Mei Xiang has given birth to three surviving offspring: Tai Shan (tie-SHON), Bao Bao (BOW BOW) and Bei Bei (BAY BAY). Tai Shan was born July 9, 2005, and moved to China February 2010. Bao Bao was born Aug. 23, 2013, and moved to China in February 2017. Bei Bei was born Aug. 22, 2015, and moved to China in November 2019. As part of the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the Zoo move to China when they are 4 years old. The Zoo’s current cooperative breeding agreement expires in December 2020.


Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin

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Behind the scenes in the Panda Garden at Zoo Berlin, first-time Giant Panda mom Meng Meng snuggles her tiny newborns into the warm, soft fur of her face. On August 31, Berlin’s Panda population doubled as Germany welcomed its first-ever Panda offspring – two of them!

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Csm_Panda-Nachwuchs_Zoo_Berlin__2__148f5b0a07Photo Credit: Zoo Berlin

The past month at Zoo Berlin has been particularly tense and exciting, with plenty of waiting and crossed fingers. Finally, on August 31 at 6:54 p.m., the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived: following a gestation period of 147 days, female Panda Meng Meng, 6, gave birth to her very first cub. The joyous event came just one week after experts from Zoo Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) were able to perform an ultrasound scan that determined Meng Meng was indeed pregnant.

Immediately after giving birth, the new mother knew just what to do: she placed the tiny creature gently on her belly and began to warm it lovingly with her big paws, warm breath, and the soft fur of her cheeks. But mother and child weren’t alone for long, as at 7:42 p.m. – just under an hour later – a second cub was born!

“Meng Meng and her two cubs coped well with the birth and are all in good health,” reports Zoo Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “Even though these are the first offspring born to our young female Panda, she is already doing a wonderful job as a mum. In the beginning, the young have to feed roughly every two to three hours and are dependent on the body heat of their mother to keep warm.”

Like all baby Giant Pandas, Germany’s first Panda cubs were born pink with fine white down and a disproportionately large tail. Though they are helpless, the youngsters came out with strong lungs and immediately put them to good use. Meng Meng responds to their loud squeaks by carefully guiding the little ones to her teats to feed. As Pandas that give birth to twins usually only raise one of the cubs, in close cooperation with Chinese experts of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo Berlin has decided to actively support Meng Meng in the rearing process to ensure the survival of both cubs.

“There are only 1,864 adult Giant Pandas currently living in their natural habitat,” says Knieriem. “As a result, every single new cub represents an important contribution to the conservation of the species.” The young Pandas are therefore currently on alternating, two-to-three-hour shifts with their mother, and are otherwise being cared for in a cozy warm incubator by the Chinese breeding experts. Vets have even managed to conduct an initial examination – with promising results. At two weeks old, the cubs had more than doubled their birth weights to 431 grams (about one pound) and 343 grams (roughly 12 ounces). They are nursing so well from Meng Meng that supplemental bottle feedings are no longer needed. The cubs’ genders have not been determined yet.

The young Panda family will stay behind the scenes for a while and will not be on view to Zoo visitors until further notice. For Panda dad Jiao Qing, 9, on the other hand, life goes on as normal. Male Pandas are not involved in the rearing of their young, so he can be found relaxing and munching on bamboo in the Panda Garden.

See more photos of Meng Meng and her babies below.

Continue reading "Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin" »


"Panda-monium" Grows Along With France's First Baby

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The “Panda-monium” continues as France’s first Giant Panda baby grows up at Zoo de Beauval.

Born on August 4, the little Panda is now three months old, has opened his eyes, and sports a fluffy black-and-white coat.

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Photo Credit: Zoo de Beauval

Temporarily named Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, the little Panda has captured the hearts of fans around the world.  In keeping with Chinese tradition, the baby will receive his official name when he turns 100 days old. 

ZooBorns first reported on Mini Yuan Zi’s birth here, including a dramatic video of the cub’s delivery. The zoo shares weekly updates on the baby’s weight.  As of November 3, he weighed nearly 12 pounds – right on target for healthy development.

Mini Yuan Zi spends most of his time with his mother, Huan Huan. Keepers occasionally remove the baby from Huan Huan to weigh him and perform a health check.  These brief periods of “alone time” give Huan Huan a chance to eat and rest away from the demands of her baby. When mom and baby are together, Huan Huan holds Mini Yuan Zi close and keeps him warm.

Breeding Giant Pandas is a complex endeavor, and timing is crucial. Adults are solitary, and females come into heat only once per year for 24-48 hours.  After three unsuccessful breeding seasons, staff at Zoo de Beauval opted to use artificial insemination. The process worked, and Mini Yuan Zi was born.

See more photos of Mini Yuan Zi below.

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Meet Mini Yuan Zi, France's First Giant Panda Cub

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The long-awaited birth of a precious Giant Panda cub at Zoo de Beauval, the first to be born in France, occurred on August 4 under the close scrutiny of zoo staff and their Chinese counterparts.

Now just over one week old, the male cub, affectionately called Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, is gradually gaining weight as his mother, Huan Huan, learns to care for him. Pandas typically receive their official name on their 100th day, following Chinese tradition.

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Newborn Giant Pandas are extremely weak and vulnerable, weighing less than a quarter of a pound (120 grams) at birth. For the first week of Mini Yuan Zi’s life, zoo staff supplemented him with bottle feedings. They also placed Mini Yuan Zi in an incubator between feedings to keep him warm because Huan Huan, a first-time mom, was not yet adept at nursing him or holding him. The staff has now discontinued bottle feedings as the cub and Huan Huan have successfully bonded.

Mini Yuan Zi was one of two infants born to Huan Huan. The second baby was very weak and despite the intensive efforts of the staff, did not survive its first day. In the wild, twins are born in about half of all Giant Panda pregnancies, and the mother typically cares only for the strongest infant.

The zoo has been working for years to reach this moment. Huan Huan and Yuan Zi were very young when first introduced in 2014. Female Pandas go into heat only once per year, for just 24 to 48 hours, meaning there is just one opportunity per year for them to mate. Huan Huan did not go into heat in 2015, and no mating occurred in 2016. In 2017, the two adults showed great interest in each other but did not successfully mate. That’s when the zoo team decided to try artificial insemination, and it worked!

Giant Pandas are pregnant for three to four months. Urine analyses, which measure hormone levels, were used to pinpoint the date of Mini Yuan Zi’s birth.

For now, Mini Yuan Zi will remain behind the scenes with his mother. In a few months, zoo visitors will be able to glimpse him in a special viewing area.

Giant Pandas are found only in a few areas in central China – a fraction of their original range – where they feed on bamboo in cool mountain forests. Fewer than 2,000 Giant Pandas live in the wild, and another 400 live in zoos and breeding centers. For many years, Giant Pandas were classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2016, they were downlisted to Vulnerable, a reflection of the intense conservation efforts underway in China. The program to save the Giant Panda is regarded as one of the most intensive, high-profile efforts ever undertaken to save an endangered species.

All Giant Pandas living in zoos belong to China and are merely loaned to the zoo. The young eventually return to China and are introduced into the breeding program.

See more photos of the baby Panda below.

Continue reading "Meet Mini Yuan Zi, France's First Giant Panda Cub" »