Entries in Giant Panda (2)


Giant Panda Cub Makes Debut at San Diego Zoo

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Animal lovers at the San Diego Zoo in California got a special treat Thursday as the giant panda cub Xiao Liwu made his public debut.

“We are very excited about our panda coming out on exhibit,” zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons told ABC News. “We have tons of fans and there is a tremendous amount of excitement. I’ve worked with a lot of different animals and there is something uniquely cute about pandas. They have an adorable appearance that you don’t necessarily see in other animals.”

The 5-month-old bear cub was allowed to go outside by himself Wednesday, after he showed signs that he was strong enough by climbing on bamboo and exploring his habitat. Before that, zookeepers could view the bear’s interaction with his mother, Bai Yun, in the birthing quarters through video cameras.

“This little panda has taken a little longer than some of our other youngsters to emerge from the den, but now that he is out he appears to want to spend the majority of his time outside,” Gaylene Thomas, animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo, said in a release.


Simmons said the pandas tell zookeepers, through their actions, when they are ready to go out into a natural habitat. The baby cubs typically stay in the den for several months and when the mother and baby cub feel they are ready they will move into the den, she said.

For now, Xiao Liwu will continue to live with his mother, but may be transferred to a suitable breeding habitat by age 3, Simmons said. The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy’s mission is to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The zoo has a 12-year agreement with China that includes the loan of two giant pandas. China reserves the right to have the cub return to its native country in order to increase the panda population.

“Pandas become sexually mature when they are 5-6 years of age,” Simmons said. “We would move them between 3 and 5 years so they are in a situation when they are of age to breed, which is important to the population’s growth.”


Xiao Liwu, whose name means “Little Gift” in English, is the sixth cub of Bai Yun, and one of two cubs still living at the zoo.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Smithsonian Says Giant Panda Mei Xiang May Be Pregnant

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Smithsonian's National Zoological Park announced Wednesday that the female giant panda Mei Xiang is exhibiting signs that she may be pregnant again.

In a press release, the Smithsonian announced the giant panda's urine showed higher levels of progesterone, an indication that she may be carrying a cub.  Mei Xiang was inseminated with sperm from her mate Tian Tian in January.

"We have now entered a window of 40 to 50 days which will dictate whether a cub will be born.  We have the nursery ready," said Brandie Smith, senior curator at the National Zoo.

The zoo has a webcam following Mei Xiang so everyone can observe the potentially pregnant panda.

Mei Xiang gave birth to her only cub, Tai Shan, in 2005.  Before Tia Shan was born, the National Zoo had tried for three decades with another pair of giant pandas to raise cubs in captivity.  They had five cubs but none lived for more than a few days.

Smith explains that it's very difficult for giant pandas to get pregnant.  Females only ovulate once a year and are fertile for a small window of two days a year.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are also a little bit romantically challenged.

"Sometimes they can't coordinate the appropriate parts," explains Smith.  That's why they have a team that oversees the artificial insemination.  Smith said this time all went extremely well.

With the exciting news of the higher hormone levels, Smith and her colleagues have started training Mei Xiang, reminding her what it's like to have a baby in captivity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio