A female giant panda named Huan Huan located at Beauval Zoo in France had been expecting twins, and on Friday, the mother finally delivered her babies.
Image Credit: christels/Pixabay
With giant panda experts from China at the scene to assist the zoo staff during the birth, there were high hopes that they could help both cub twins survive. Unfortunately, hearts were tragically broken when one of the cubs passed away just shortly after birth.
According to several reports, the first cub to see the light was significantly weaker than the second. Huan Huan catered to her first-born just until it was time to deliver the second almost 14 minutes later.
As soon as the first cub was born, the experts could already tell there were problems with its health; then came the second, which was in much better health than the original.
Huan Huan quickly chose to care for the second-born cub, abandoning the first.
While it sounds morbid, this is a common practice of giant pandas in the wild. The mother caters for the stronger of two twins and leaves the other to fall through the cracks naturally. It helps ensure the strongest of the two can survive, and that no energy gets wasted on the weaker of the two.
Despite what appears to be a sad story for the first cub, experts say the second is fortunate to be in excellent health and should survive. It’s a huge accomplishment for Beauval Zoo, especially since it’s the first giant panda cub ever born in France.
The cub doesn’t have a name yet, but monitoring will continue for about a week to ensure it stays in good health. After that week, the experts from China will return home, and the zoo staff will be responsible for taking care of it.
Beauval Zoo won’t be caring for Huan Huan or her cub forever, as they’re on loan. The cub will be shipped to China after it reaches two or three years old, while Huan Huan and her mate Yuan Zi will follow in 2022.
Giant pandas used to be an endangered species, but conservation efforts recently helped to move their rank to vulnerable, which is a bit less critical. Every new giant panda cub born into our world helps replenish their numbers.