By Mary Bubala

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — There’s a special arrival at the National Zoo in Washington. The giant panda gave birth Sunday night to the surprise and delight of the panda team, which has been trying to make this happen for the past six years.

Mary Bubala has more.

Scientists at the National Zoo had all but given up on Mei Xiang’s chances of conceiving after years of artificial insemination and failed pregnancies. But the 14-year-old surprised them when a cub was born late Sunday night.

“What a great day. We’ve got a panda cub. Isn’t that tremendous news? That’s fantastic, as you know,” said Dennis Kelly, a zoo official. “Going back and looking at the tapes, that’s when we think a birth occurred [around 10 p.m.] I got a call about 10 minutes later.”

So far, they’ve only gotten fleeting glances of the cub.

“The cub is pretty much hairless, about four ounces. So about the size of a stick of butter, pink and wiggly and very vocal,” said Nicole MacCorkle.

Zookeepers will likely do their first exam on the cub in three to four weeks. It will be four to five months before the public can see the cub in person. As part of Chinese tradition, it will be named when it is 100 days old.

The panda and her cub will live at the zoo for the next four years but will head back to a zoo in China as part of a scientific loan agreement with the Chinese government.

Click here to see the zoo’s panda camera.


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