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Mei Xiang, the Giant Panda at the National Zoo in Washington, gave birth to a cub on Friday. The birth was streamed live thanks to the zoo’s Giant Panda Cam.
The Washington Post reports that the zoo called the city’s panda-obsessed citizens to attention by sending a tweet and Facebook post at 3:36 p.m. when Mei Xiang’s water broke. People could watch the birth live thanks to the Zoo’s new high-definition, black and white panda cam.
The unnamed cub was born at 5:32 p.m. and, while everyone at the zoo is happy, they are also cautions. Mei Xiang previously gave birth to a cub in September, but the cub died days later.
“We feel incredible,” zoo director Dennis Kelly told the Post. “The team is just ecstatic. But we’re also very cautious at this point. We look like we have a healthy cub. It’s squawking appropriately. . . . It looks like it’s a good size. So all that is so far, so good.”
According to Science World Report, the baby was born via artificial insemination. Officials had been expecting two more cubs after the birth of the first, but no other cubs were born.
Zoo officials will treat the birth a little differently, taking the cub away from the mother briefly on Saturday for an examination. The National Zoo has not done this before because they feared breaking the mother-child bond, but this practice is becoming increasingly common at zoos in China and elsewhere.
The National Zoo is also home to Tian Tian, a male panda that officials tried to have mate with Mei Xiang, but were unsuccessful.
image: YouTube/National Zoo clip