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Smaller of National Zoo’s Two New Panda Cubs Has Died

posted: 08/26/15
by: Richard Farrell
Smithsonian Baby Panda
Smithsonian via Facebook

Smithsonian's National Zoo announced that the smaller of two new cubs born to giant panda Mei Xiang died this afternoon shortly after 2 pm.

Mei Xiang gave birth to the cubs on August 22 -- the first at 5:35 pm and another later that evening. Smithsonian veterinarians had been swapping the cubs back and forth to Mei, employing a protocol known as "twin hand," where one cub stays with the mother while the other is kept warm in an incubator and hand-fed by bottle as necessary.

Yesterday on its Facebook page the Smithsonian team expressed concern about the smaller cub, whose weight seemed to be fluctuating. They bottle- and tube-fed it and also noted it was showing signs of regurgitation. It was given antibiotics as a preventive measure.

The smaller cub weighed 86 grams at birth. The larger weighed 138 grams. The first weeks of a fragile panda cub's life are crucial, and it's not uncommon for them to perish.

In a press release, the Smithsonian team said that the larger cub so far "appears to be strong, robust, behaving normally."

This post originally appeared on Discovery News

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