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.
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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid