WASHINGTON — Mei Xiang’s newborn cub has “regular, loud” vocalizations that are “signs of good health,” said Michael Brown-Palsgrove, curator of Asia Trail and giant pandas with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, here on Wednesday.
Brown-Palsgrove wrote in an update that Mei Xiang, who “continues to exhibit excellent maternal care and is attentive,” briefly tested her cub’s tolerance to staying on the floor Tuesday evening.
“Mei Xiang placed the cub on the floor of her den for just a few seconds,” the curator observed. “It let out a few hearty squeals, and Mei Xiang immediately picked the cub up, cradled it and gave a few comforting licks.”
Brown-Palsgrove also said he has been struck by how the cub’s tail “has filled out and thickened since birth.” It’s expected to see its black markings appear in the next few days.
Mei Xiang, 22, gave birth to the cub on Aug. 21, the seventh since she and male giant panda Tian Tian began living in the zoo in 2000. Three of her cubs have survived to adulthood.
A newborn giant panda weighs about 3 to 5 ounces at birth and measures about 5 to 6 inches in length.
The female giant panda was artificially inseminated in March this year with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian. Veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on an ultrasound earlier this month.
Tian Tian will turn 23 years old on Thursday and will receive a panda-friendly fruitsicle cake and enrichment boxes filled with his favorite treats, according to the national zoo.
The zoo in Washington, D.C. has a decades-long partnership with Chinese scientists and curators on conserving giant pandas.