National Zoo: Giant panda gives birth to 2 cubs

WASHINGTON — Mei Xiang, the giant female panda at the National Zoo, gave birth to two cubs on Saturday, the zoo announced.

The National Zoo held a press conference on Sunday and said the two cubs are doing well.

According to a press release from the National Zoo, giant pandas give birth to twins about 50 percent of the time. This is only the third time a giant panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.

Mei Xiang’s first panda cub was born 5:35 p.m. and was showing “all signs of being happy and healthy,” said Dr. Donald Neiffer, the zoo’s chief veterinarian. 

The second cub was born at 10:07 p.m., according to a tweet from the National Zoo’s account.

The cub was placed in an incubator and cared for by veterinarians and panda keepers.

The panda’s gender and paternity is unknown, zoo officials said. Zoo staff planned to give Mei Xiang and the new baby cubs some time alone.

“We are very excited, but very cautious,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo.

According to Zoo officials, the panda team will alternate the cubs between nursing and spending time with Mei Xiang, and being bottle fed and staying warm in an incubator.

The second cub weighed around 4.67 ounces Sunday morning and appears healthy, zoo officials said. The first cub weighs around 3 ounces and appears strong.

The first delivery was captured on the zoo’s panda cam, which experienced intermittent crashes due to a surge in traffic shortly after the zoo tweeted that Mei Xiang was in labor.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in April. Recently, she had been spending more time in her den, body licking and sleeping in more, and cradling toys — all behaviors consistent with a pregnancy. Veterinarians detected a fetus during an ultrasound Wednesday morning.

Mei Xiang has two living cubs: Tai Shan, who now lives in China, and Bao Bao, who turned two on Sunday.

Watch the video of Mei Xiang giving birth to second cub:

WTOP’s Tim Drummond and Ari Ashe contributed to this report

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up