Both pandas are the same gender, have the same father

WASHINGTON — It’s a boy!

That was the first big nugget of news in a string of updates about the panda cubs that were born at the National Zoo on Saturday.

Both of the cubs are male and both were fathered by the zoo’s male panda, Tian Tian.  They are not identical twins.

The smaller cub died Wednesday by what officials believe may have been pneumonia.

“It had all indications that it was doing fine, with exception that it was only two-thirds the size of its brother,” said Don Neiffer, National Zoo chief veterinarian.

Neiffer added that Mei Xiang had not chosen one cub over the other and cared for both very much.  However, she would not give up her cubs very easily, making the staff’s effort to rotate the cubs more difficult.

“We consider the most likely cause of death to be complications associated with aspiration of food material into the respiratory system” while the cub was in the staff’s care.

Neiffer said that towards the end, the smaller cub was tube-fed because it would not eat from the bottle.

However, prospects are very bright for the surviving cub.

“The cub does make a lot of noise and that’s a good thing,” said Brandie Smith, Associate Director for Animal Care Services with Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “Every time you hear that cub squealing, you hear those big, healthy lungs on it and it’s telling Mei Xiang [the cub’s mother] that it’s hungry and wants to nurse.”

Officials said he has grown significantly in recent days and that Mei Xiang has been a very doting mother.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up