The National Zoo's Baby Panda, Mei Xiang's Cub, Has Died

Yuan Zai , the first Taiwan-born baby panda, climbs inside its enclosure at the Taipei City Zoo on January 6, 2014. Yuan Zai, who weighed 180 grams (6.35 ounces) at birth, now weighs about 14 kilos (31 lbs) and make made her anticipated public debut as she turned six months old. AFP PHOTO / Mandy CHENG (Photo credit should read Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, D.C.'s National Zoo reported that one of its new baby pandas, the cub of 17-year-old Mei Xiang, had died around 2 p.m. The other panda, its twin, is doing well. Prior to the baby's death, Mei Xiang had been ignoring it, the smaller of her twin pandas, focusing her attention on the other cub. "The smaller giant panda cub died this afternoon shortly after 2p.m.," the National Zoo's statement read. "The larger cub appears to be strong, robust, behaving normally and is with mother Mei Xiang."

When pandas have twins, they tend to focus their attention on one and leave the other to fend for itself, often resulting in its death. To this end, the National Zoo had been swapping out the panda cubs in an effort to make sure both had equal time with their mother. But as of early this week, Mei Xiang was all but ignoring the smaller of the two. PETA blasted the zoo's policy in a statement, suggesting that research had proven that baby pandas should stay with their mothers at all times and calling the zoo's plan to switch out the babies a "public-relations fiasco."

"We are sad to report that the smaller of the two panda cubs has died. We will continue to provide updates on social media w/ #Pandastory," the National Zoo said on Twitter.

[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/NationalZoo/statuses/636614118330372096]


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