Entries in National Zoo (3)


1-Week-Old Panda Cub Dies at National Zoo 

Giant panda Mei Xiang, October 2006. Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A giant panda cub born one week ago at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. has died.

Panda keepers and volunteers heard a distress call from the unnamed cub's mother, Mei Xiang, at 9:17 a.m., today, the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo's Panda Cam, which has for 18 years allowed people around the world to watch the bears in their habitat, was turned off. Veterinarians were able to safely retrieve the panda an hour later, according to the zoo.

CPR and other life-saving measures were attempted, however the cub failed to respond, zoo officials said.

The cause of death is still undetermined. Veterinarians said the cub was in "good body condition," weighing in at just under 100 grams and that there were no visible signs of trauma or infection.

The unnamed cub was born last Sunday night and has not been seen by the public.

"She [Mei Xiang] has a huge nest of bamboo, so it's normal not to see the cub," chief veterinarian Suzan Murray told "Good Morning America" on Monday.

"We rely a lot on the sound. We like to hear a little squawking and we're hearing a lot of squawking," she said.

The birth was Mei Xiang's second as the result of artificial insemination. She gave birth to her first cub, Tai Shan, in 2005. Tian Tian, 15, is the father of both of Mei Xiang's cubs.

Mei Xiang, 14, has had five consecutive pseudopregnancies since 2007 and had a less than a 10 percent chance of being pregnant after so many failed attempts.

With only 300 pandas left in breeding zones and zoos around the world, Mei Xiang and the father of the new cub have become public symbols for endangered species and conservation efforts.

As part of Chinese President Hu Jintao's official state dinner welcome in January 2011, the announcement was made of a new five-year, $2.5 million deal between the Smithsonian Institution and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. The Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement allowed Washington's furriest duo to stay in the nation's capital.

"Pandas are such a good ambassador for conservation and they highlight all that we do here at the zoo," Murray told "GMA." "Everybody is thrilled. We're thrilled nationally, globally. It's a nice image of the partnership we have with our Chinese colleagues."

U.S.-China relations have never been simple. But panda diplomacy is not a new tactic in strengthening international ties. Since the Tang Dynasty from A.D. 618 to 907, China has been sending its national treasure to other countries as a symbol of gratitude.

The first panda couple to be donated to the American people followed President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China, one that marked a new beginning for the longtime foes. Greeted with an official ceremony hosted by the first lady, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing lived at the National Zoo for more than 20 years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Zoo's Cheetah Cubs to Be Named After Fastest US Sprinters

Jen Zoon, Smithsonian's National Zoo(WASHINGTON) -- When the runners take their mark for the 100-meter dash at the Olympic Games in London this month there will be more at stake than just a gold medal, at least for the Americans in the field.

On the line will be the names of a pair of cheetah cubs who just made their debut at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Zoo officials have announced that they will name the cubs, born April 23, after the fastest American male and female athletes in the 100-meter dash race. That means at least one cub will be named Justin (Gatlin), Tyler (Gay) or Ryan (Bailey) and one will be named Allyson (Felix), Carmelita (Jeter) or Tianna (Madison).

The fact that the cubs will receive a medal-worthy name goes along with their story of survival. The two were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., last April by an emergency C-section after their mother's labor ceased. The mother, who lost two other cubs during the delivery, then abandoned her surviving cubs.

The pair was transferred to the National Zoo in May and have been hand-raised by zoo staff ever since. On Tuesday, the now three-month-old cubs were placed in their public enclosure at the zoo for the world to see the progress they've made.

Beginning Saturday, the public will be able to view the cubs for two hours per day, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cottonmouth Viper 'Spit' Sends National Zoo Employee to Hospital

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (file)(WASHINGTON) -- What do you get when you mix snake urine, feces and venom? For a reptile keeper at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the toxic concoction got her a quick trip to the hospital and a star appearance Monday on the District of Columbia Fire Department's twitter feed.

"EMS - snake bite - National Zoo - 3001 Connecticut Av NW - health unit - adult employee bit by snake," DC Fire and EMS tweeted at 4 p.m. Monday, still breaking in its new Twitter account.

That snippet was soon followed by this one:

"Update - Zoo - Cotton Mouth Viper 'spit' at keeper - EMS evaluated & transported adult female - checkup not serious anti-venom on board."

It turns out that while the reptile keeper was attempting to transfer a three-foot-long cottonmouth viper to its holding cage, the snake bit itself in the tail, releasing a combination of urine, feces and venom. A small amount of that mixture shot into the employee's right eye.

After securing the snake, the employee was helped to an eye-wash station near the snake habitat and then to the zoo's health unit where her eye was rinsed again. "As an abundance of caution, she was sent to the hospital," zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said.

Both the snake and the zoo keeper are "absolutely fine," Baker-Masson said.

Cottonmouths, also known as water moccasins, can "cause very severe, and even sometimes fatal, damage when they bite. But this is very uncommon because the cottonmouths are normally not very aggressive creatures," according to the zoo's web site.

Their venom breaks down blood cells, preventing clotting and potentially causing hemorrhages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio