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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid