Aug. 26., 1:30 p.m.: The Smithsonian's National Zoo announced Wednesday that the smaller of the twin pandas has died.
Don't expect the twin giant panda cubs born Saturday at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., to go on display anytime soon. The first week for the hairless, small babies is critical, and there have been issues already with the fragile cubs.
You won't be able to see the cubs for several months. The zoo reported Monday that the panda team had been swapping the cubs for feeding and bonding with mother Mei Xiang. But Sunday night, Mom wouldn't put down the larger cub, leaving team members to bottle feed the little one.
Travelers going to the the zoo while Mom and cubs are in the den will still see 2-year-old Bao Bao and her dad, Tian Tian. And you may get a sighting of Mei Xiang in a few weeks when she starts to leave the den. You can follow the cubs' progress at #PandaStory on Instagram (@SmithsonianZoo) and Twitter (@NationalZoo).
Where else can you get your fix of seeing giant pandas in the U.S.? The endangered animals native to southwest China are loaned to zoos by the country's zoo and forestry agencies. There are just four zoos in America that house pandas.
The first baby panda born in the U.S. was born here. And of the six panda babies born at the downtown San Diego Zoo, five have been returned to China. The zoo on Aug. 3 announced that its female, Bai Yun, isn't pregnant. (Female pandas are fertile just 48 to 72 hours once a year.)
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
The zoo has two other pandas: Gao Gao who arrived in 2003, and Xiao Liwu who was born in 2012. The three pandas lumber around, chew on bamboo and sleep in air-conditioned bedrooms at the zoo's Giant Panda Research Station. If you go in fall, you can take advantage of free children's tickets during the month of October.
(David Goldman / Associated Press)
Twin giant panda sisters Mei Huan, rear, and Mei Lun, play with presents filled with biscuits as they celebrate their second birthday in mid-July at the zoo in Georgia. The cubs are joined in the exhibition by their parents, Yang Yang and Lun Lun.
The pair had successful births in 2006, 2008 and 2010; all have been returned to China.
Ya Ya and Le Le are a panda couple that has been at the Tennessee zoo since 2003. The two have been together for a decade but breeding attempts so far have been unsuccessful.
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