Prolific Ying Ying Gives Birth to Pair of Pandas
Ying Ying, Mexico City’s prolific giant panda, gave birth to twin cubs--only the third time panda twins have been born in captivity, zoo officials said Wednesday.
Maria Elena Hoyo, the director of the Chapultepec Park Zoo, called the twins “beautiful creatures that look like stuffed animals.” She said the strongest cub weighed almost 4 ounces while the smaller one weighed 2 1/2 ounces. The zoo had announced earlier that only one panda had been born.
The only previous instances of twin giant pandas being born in captivity occurred in Spain and China.
“Unfortunately the mother has only wanted to protect the larger one,” Hoyo said. The smaller sibling is being cared for by veterinarians.
“We still cannot be sure it will live,” Hoyo said in an interview on Mexican television.
The mother and her two cubs were kept out of the public eye, away from father Pei Pei and two cub siblings, Hoyo said.
Listed among the world’s endangered species, less than 1,000 giant pandas are alive today. Nearly all live in their native China.
Of some 60 pandas in captivity, the Mexican couple of Ying Ying and Pei Pei have produced five cubs while in captivity, Hoyo said.
90 Days Gestation
The newborn cubs were born after a gestation period of 90 days. The usual period for giant pandas is 127 days.
“Not even the Chinese are going to believe us,” she said.
China donated Ying Ying and Pei Pei to Mexico in September, 1975. Ying Ying gave birth to her first offspring on Aug. 10, 1980, the first cub naturally conceived and born in captivity.
The cub died a week later when Ying Ying accidentally rolled over it in her sleep.
A second cub was born July 21, 1981, and given the male name of Tohui before officials discovered she was female. The third was born July 4, 1982, and named Lianglian. Its sex has not yet been determined.