News / Science & Technology

Washington's Giant Panda Gives Birth, but Who's the Daddy?

In this image from video provided by the Smithsonian National Zoo, Mei Xiang gives birth to a cub two hours after her water broke, Aug. 23, 2013, at the National Zoo in Washington.
In this image from video provided by the Smithsonian National Zoo, Mei Xiang gives birth to a cub two hours after her water broke, Aug. 23, 2013, at the National Zoo in Washington.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A giant panda gave birth to a cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington on Friday - though it's not immediately clear who the father might be.
 
The birth of the cub, which has not yet been named, is the third for the mother, 15-year-old Mei Xiang, who could be seen cradling the new arrival on the zoo's “Panda Cam” shortly after giving birth on Friday evening.
 
The baby panda appears healthy, said zoo director Dennis Kelly, adding that scientists will take a closer look at it in the next couple of days.
 
The cub was conceived through artificial insemination on March 30, using a mixture of fresh and frozen semen collected from two different male pandas, the zoo said. One was Tian Tian, who lives in the National Zoo, the other Gao Gao, a resident of the San Diego Zoo.
 
Scientists will perform a paternity test in the coming weeks to figure out which male panda sired the cub, the zoo said.
 
Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. Their natural home lies in a few mountain ranges in central China. There are about 1,600 known to be living in the wild and some 300 in captivity, mostly in China.
 
Female pandas are able to conceive only for two or three days in the spring, which makes reproduction difficult. The gestation period is about five months.
 
Tian Tian, was given a chance to impregnate Mei Xiang on his own before zoo breeders resorted to artificial means. Most pandas bred in captivity are conceived through artificial insemination.
 
Determining whether a panda is pregnant can be tricky. Females can experience a “pseudopregnancy” that causes hormone spikes and changes in behavior, such as reduced appetite and mobility - similar to the symptoms of an actual pregnancy.
 
Scientists saw no evidence of a fetus the last time they administered an ultrasound on Aug. 5, but suspected a baby might be on the way about a week later, when Mei Xiang started spending long hours licking her body and cradling her toys.
 
Mei Xiang's first cub, was born in 2005 and now lives in China. Her second cub died six days after birth in 2012.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid