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September 05, 2013

Rare Giant Panda Born in US is Female

Smithsonian Institution officials say the two-week-old giant panda cub at its National Zoo in Washington is a female. They also revealed the cub's father is National Zoo panda Tian Tian.

The panda mother, Mei Xiang, was artificially inseminated with sperm from Tian Tian and from a San Diego Zoo panda named Gao Gao. A DNA sample was collected to determine the cub's father.

Zookeepers say the mother and cub are healthy, and the cub is starting to develop the distinctive dark markings in her fur around the eyes, ears and back.

China owns the rare pandas at the National Zoo. The cub is expected to stay at the zoo for about four years and will most likely be sent to China.

Mei Xiang's other surviving cub, a male named Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and sent to China in 2010.

The endangered pandas are well known for their difficulty in breeding and producing cubs.