Panda-monium at the National Zoo

WASHINGTON – Zoo-goers made a bee-line for the giant panda exhibit to celebrate the news of a special delivery.

Mei Xiang, the zoo’s female giant panda, is a mother once again. At 5:32 Friday evening Mei Xiang, the zoo’s 15-year old female panda, gave birth to a cub.

Although Mei Xiang and her cub are staying out of the public eye in their den, the zoo’s adult male panda Tian-Tian remains on public display at the panda house.

And Saturday, Tian-Tian, who is possibly the cub’s father, pleased the crowds, coming up close to visitors and lying on his back with his belly up to the sky, eating bamboo.

“Hi Tian-Tian,” says Bo Kwok. She’s here with her daughter Kim Chiu. The two are visiting D.C. from Princeton, N.J. But they weren’t planning on coming to the zoo until they heard about the new baby.

“When they announced the birth (Friday) we were so excited,” Kwok says. Her daughter pleaded with her to go to the zoo.

Brianna Gettier also visited the pandas with her mother Lisa Gettier, both of Waverly, Va. “It’s a huge deal,” Lisa Gettier says of the panda birth.

Last September Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub but it died a week later.

Lisa Gettier and her daughter are taken back as Tian-Tian decides to make another appearance to the crowd. “They’re such beautiful creatures,” says Gettier.

While talking about Mei Xiang’s very first cub Tai Shan, who was born July 9, 2005 but who lives in China, Gettier says he was the size of a stick of butter. She jokes that her own children were 8 pounds when they were born but says if human babies came out the size of a stick of butter, “We’d have a lot more babies.”

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