WASHINGTON (WJZ) — After weeks of waiting, a giant panda gives birth at the National Zoo in Washington.
With the world watching via webcam, Mei Xiang had a newborn cub. And believe it or not, there is still a possibility a second cub could be on the way.
Meghan McCorkell has the exciting developments.
That little cub was born at 5:32 p.m. Friday. Zoo officials say it’s about the size of a stick of butter.
From the Panda Cam, you can hear the first squeals of life as the new baby panda is born at the National Zoo.
“So far, it looks like a good size cub. It’s vocalizing well,” said Dennis Kelly, director, National Zoo.
Zoo officials say mama Mei Xiang’s water broke just after 3:30 p.m. Friday. Two hours later, the tiny cub was born–the mom immediately picking it up and cradling it.
Veterinarians will examine the baby in the next 24 to 48 hours, but they won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl for about two or three weeks. It will be even longer until the cub makes its public debut.
“It will probably be about four to five months before we actually let people in the panda house to see them. The reason is, we want to give her a very quiet, calm environment to raise, him, her, them,” said senior curator Brandie Smith.
This is the third little one for Mei Xiang. In 2005, she gave birth to baby Tai Shan, who’s been sent back to China. Last September, her second cub died in just six days from a liver problem.
Zoo officials say they will be on edge watching this new baby.
“I’ll tell you, all of my colleagues, we’re going to be tense for the next two to three months.”
So far, officials say it looks good. According to Chinese tradition, the cub will be named once it is 100 days old.
While the public won’t be able to visit the new cub for awhile, you can always check it out on the National Zoo’s Panda Cam.
When pandas give birth, there is a 50 percent chance a twin could be born. So far, no twin, but zookeepers will be keeping an eye on Mei Xiang for about 24 hours just to be sure.