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Giant Panda at Smithsonian National Zoo Might Give Birth Within Days

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 16, 2020 1:25 pm

giant panda smithsonian national zoo

Mei Xiang, the expectant mother

Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

Keepers at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC are eagerly waiting to see if their giant panda Mei Xiang, 22 will give birth to a cub after tissue consistent with fecal development was found on an ultrasound conducted on August 14th.

While the tissue is considered consistent with a developing fetus there remains a chance that the fetus could be resorbed or miscarried. There is also a chance that the tissue is not a fetus.

Excitingly if there is an infant then vets estimate that Mei Xiang may give birth within the next few days.

“In the middle of a pandemic, this is a joyful moment we can all get excited about,” said Don Neiffer, chief veterinarian at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo who conducted the ultrasound. “We are optimistic that very shortly she may give birth to a healthy cub or cubs. We’re fortunate that Mei Xiang participated in the ultrasound allowing us to get sharp images and video. We’re watching her closely and welcome everyone to watch with us on the panda cams.”

You can watch the panda cam here – Panda Cam Smithsonian National Zoo

giant panda smithsonian national zoo

An ultrasound image of the potential fetus

Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

The father of the cub would be the resident male panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo, Tian Tian, 22. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated by Reproductive scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) on March 22nd.

Keepers were first alerted to the potential pregnancy by a rise in Mei Xiang’s urinary progesterone levels on June 10. In late July her behavior started to change with Mei Xiang eating less, nest-building and body licking.

This would be Mei Xiang’s fourth surviving cub. The other cubs have returned to China in line with the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. As part of this all cubs return to China at 4 years old. The current breeding agreement ends in December 2020.

At present the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat has been closed to the public giving Mei Xiang a quiet environment in which to prepare for the birth. You can still see the pandas on the panda cam listed above.

Learn more about the giant panda Giant Panda Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Smithsonian National Zoo on their website – Smithsonian National Zoo

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