• Baby Panda Observed at National Zoo


    WASHINGTON, Sept 18, 2012 (AFP) – Staff at the National Zoo said Tuesday they have stolen a few brief video peeks of its baby panda, in which the newborn healthily squeals and squirms in response to its mother.

    Mei Xiang, on loan to the Smithsonian-run zoo from China, gave birth to the cub on Sunday, and so far she is demonstrating what zookeepers called “excellent maternal behaviors.”

    One black-and-white webcam clip, posted on the National Zoo’s “panda cam” website (nationalzoo.si.edu), showed mamma bear picking up baby bear with her mouth as she shifts position.

    “By using her mouth, Mei Xiang can very gently and dexterously position the cub on her body so that she is able to nurse and groom it,” the zoo said in a statement.

    “The cub actively squirms and vocalizes loudly in response — two good signs that the cub is healthy,” it said, adding that there are signs that the newborn is successfully nursing.

    Zookeepers have chosen to keep a physical distance from Mei Xiang, in order to let her raise the cub naturally.

    Giant pandas are rare and endangered, with as few of 1,600 surviving in the mountain forests of central China. More than 300 others live in zoos and breeding centers, mostly in China.

    Mei Xiang and partner Tian Tian took up residence in the US capital under a giant panda research and breeding agreement signed in January 2011 between the National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association.

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