It would appear that the popular Giant Panda from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. that goes by the name of Mei Xiang has given birth to a pair of twin cubs this weekend.
The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian and guests are able to enter the Zoo free of charge, as it’s one of the oldest Zoos in the country.
Saturday afternoon, Mei Xiang’s water broke and Zoo specialists knew it would only be a matter of time before the mother delivered a cub. The first cub was delivered at 5:34 p.m. on Saturday, and it was vocalizing, meaning that the cub was getting plenty of air and was healthy.
"The panda team began preparing for a birth when they saw Mei Xiang's water break at 4:32 p.m., and she was already having contractions. The sex of the cub won't be determined until a later date," the Zoo said in a statement to the public.
Then, at about 10:07 p.m. Saturday night, Mei Xiang gave birth once more to yet another cub. This birth was unexpected and took the Zoo specialists by surprise. The National Zoo has confirmed that both cubs are in healthy condition and that the mother will be taking care of the cubs.
"We can confirm a second cub was born at 10:07," the Zoo shared on Twitter. "It appears healthy."
Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated to get to this point, which means that because it’s so hard to get giant pandas to mate together, semen was injected into Mei Xiang’s uterus without sexual intercourse to essentially speed up the process of cub-making. Part of why they have a hard time mating is that they're so darn lazy and don't exhert extra energy unless they feel that they have to.
Mei Xiang hasn’t had a perfect track record of giving birth to cubs; in 2012, a cub she gave birth to died only six days after birth due to being underdeveloped, while the following year, 2013, she gave birth to a stillborn cub.
Currently, the two cubs born this weekend both appear to be healthy. This means these cubs would be Mei Xiang’s third and fourth surviving offspring in the giant panda’s whole 17 years of existence, assuming they can survive and everything goes well and according to plan.
Not only is this great news for the Zoo, but also it’s great news for Mei Xiang, who hopefully won’t have the sad thought of another young death. The Zoo is confident that she will make a great mother to two the newborn cubs, which are highly vulnerable at this point in their lives.
You can watch Mei Xiang give bith to her second cub in the video below, released by the National Zoo: