ATLANTA - The mother of the only giant panda twins in the United States delivered a second set of twins, Zoo Atlanta said Saturday, capping off an eventful month for lovers of the fluffy black-and-white bears across the globe.
Three years ago, mother bear Lun Lun gave birth to female cubs Mei Lun and Mei Huan, who are still at the Georgia zoo but could be returned this fall to China, which owns them, zoo spokeswoman Rachel Davis said.
Panda pregnancies, famously rare in captivity and outside China, are notoriously hard to establish or predict. The rarest member of the bear family with roughly 1,864 in the wild, pandas live mainly in bamboo forests high in the mountains of western China, where they subsist almost entirely on bamboo leaves.
News of the births came as twin panda cubs born at a zoo in Vienna, Austria, turned 28 days old Satruday and were said to be fit and healthy — and very cute.
In China, twin panda cubs, a male and a female, were born at a breeding research base in southwest Sichuan province on August 9, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
In Atlanta, Lun Lun was impregnated by artificial insemination on March 28, the zoo said.
If Lun Lun's second set of twins survive, they will be her sixth and seventh cubs, Davis said.
Newborn panda cubs are very vulnerable, being about the size of a stick of butter, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They can grow to up to 330 pounds (149.69 kilograms) as an adult.
While about half of all panda deliveries are twins, mothers in the wild typically only care for one cub, Zoo Atlanta said.
While the zoo will be closely watching Lun Lun and her cubs, the rest of the world can also keep an eye on them over a live camera streamed at www.zooatlanta.org.