As officials expressed "absolute confidence" that a surviving panda cub will survive, the National Zoo said today that a second cub born to giant panda Ling-Ling had taken a few breaths before it died.
Zoo spokesman Mike Morgan said an examination of the dead male cub by the zoo pathologist determined that it had breathed "at least six times."
"But we never saw any movement and it never vocalized," Morgan said. "The movement and vocalization from the other cub were very noticeable."
Zookeepers removed the body of the dead cub Wednesday when Ling-Ling left the nest and were able to examine it.
The surviving 2-day-old cub, meanwhile, appeared to be nursing and in good health. Officials were keeping their distance from the cub and its mother, trying not to disturb her.
"Everyone seems content that things are going well," Morgan said.
The 4-ounce cub, born at 3:33 a.m. Tuesday, would become the first giant panda cub to survive captive birth in the United States.
Officials said they will leave Ling-Ling in privacy, with the panda house closed to the public, for as long as four months while she raises the cub.