Pandas in Washington – level 3
Double the panda cuteness! Giant panda Mei Xiang has given birth to a pair of cubs at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington.
Mei gave birth to her first cub at 5:34 p.m, after her waters broke about an hour beforehand.
And about four hours later, a second cub arrived and both appeared to be healthy.
Zoo officials said Mei picked up the cubs soon after giving birth and is being “a great mother”. After the second surprise birth, one cub was placed in an incubator in line with protocol when twins are born.
Mei has previously given birth to two surviving cubs: Tai Shan in 2005 and Bao Bao in 2013.
She was artificially inseminated with frozen sperm from a panda in China, and fresh sperm from the National Zoo’s male panda.
The gender of the cubs and which of the sperm donors is the father will be determined later.
No decision has yet been made yet about naming the cubs.
With a very low reproductive rate, particularly in captivity, the panda’s natural home is a few mountain ranges in central China. There are around 1,600 giant pandas known to be living in the wild and some 300 in captivity.
Difficult words: cub (a young animal), water break (when the fluid in a woman comes out right before a baby is born), protocol (rules), artificially (not naturally), donor (somebody who donates – gives something like blood or an organ).
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