National Zoo’s Panda Cub Got Cuter Since Government Shutdown

The National Zoo's female panda cub underwent her first comprehensive vet exam Tuesday and now weighs almost two pounds, vets say.

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National Zoo
The National Zoo's 8-week-old cub has grown since the panda cam went dark during the government shutdown. The zoo's 15 cameras went back up on Thursday, Oct. 17.
As of Oct. 17, the cub weighs in at 5 pounds, up from 3.07 pounds.
Both of her eyes have partially opened since the cameras were turned off.
National Zoo
The National Zoo's female panda cub underwent her first comprehensive vet exam in September and weighed in at almost two pounds, vets say.
National Zoo
It was the cub's first full vet exam since her birth Aug. 23, vets said. Although they quickly "borrowed" the cub from protective mama Mei Xiang on Aug. 25, they only had the chance to do a preliminary check.
Vets were been waiting for mother Mei Xiang to leave the cub long enough to perform a full visit, and in September, they got their chance.
National Zoo
The cub weighsed almost two pounds in September, up from 4.8 ounces three weeks before. From nose to tail, she wa 10.6 inches long and 9.8 inches wide around her belly, the zoo said. Her eyes did not opened yet.
National Zoo
After the exam, Mei Xiang returned to her den and immediately picked up her cub and began grooming her. "Mei Xiang continues to be a great mom, as she was with her first cub, Tai Shan, and it shows," said Brandie Smith, senior curator of mammals and giant pandas.
National Zoo
The cub and her stillborn twin were born about a day apart in late August. Smith said panda observers did not see the birth of the second cub, but noticed Mei Xiang doing some abnormally long grooming of a cub and didn’t notice any movement. She said there were some very tense moments until they heard the first cub squealing, indicating the presence of the second cub. “It was a few minutes of pure terror,” said Smith. “It was minutes between the cub not moving and the realization it was a second cub.”
National Zoo
Mei Xiang has given birth to two cubs in the past. A female cub, born last September, lived only six days. Her birth was a surprise; she had not shown up on any ultrasounds. An autopsy determined she may have been born prematurely. Mei Xiang's only surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and now lives in China.
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