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Zoo names cause of death of panda cub

Posted by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:32 PM
  • 6 Replies


hank500.jpg

Mei Xiang sits outside on Thursday, Oct. 11. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

    WASHINGTON - Poorly developed lungs that led to liver trouble killed a giant panda cub that died suddenly last month less, than a week after its surprise birth at the National Zoo, the institute's chief veterinarian said Thursday.

    Suzan Murray said the cub's cause of death was liver necrosis, or the death of liver cells. Murray said at a news conference the cub's lungs were underdeveloped and likely didn't provide enough oxygen to the liver.

    The cub's underdeveloped lungs may have been caused by being born prematurely, Murray said. Zoo scientists are trying to learn more about how common the liver and lung defects are in newborn pandas that don't survive.

    The cub, a female, was born Sept. 16.

    Zoo officials and panda fans were devastated by its death less than a week later. The birth was a surprise because it hadn't been clear whether Mei Xiang was still fertile.

    Don Moore, the zoo's associate director for animal sciences, said panda mother Mei Xiang has been showing less mothering behavior and has stopped cradling a toy in recent days.

    In addition, after spending nearly four weeks in her den, she has stopped staying inside and is sleeping out in the panda yard. As a result, zoo keepers on Wednesday cleared out the nest she had built.

    The zoo has a five-year agreement with China to keep its two pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, through 2015. Murray will travel to China this month as the zoo begins planning for the future. They will discuss whether to keep both pandas in Washington or to swap one or both out for the next breeding season.

    A decision should be made in November, Moore said.

    WTOP's Hank Silverberg and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

    (Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

    by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:32 PM
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    Replies (1-6):
    Puppy_Mom
    by Member on Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Aw, how devastating for the mama panda. It's comforting to know that animal moms suffer after the loss of their little ones too. 

    MyMysMommie819
    by Mandy on Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:58 PM

     awwww =0( poor panda!!

    nicki1018
    by Nicki on Oct. 11, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I know :( poor little guy.

    mamainluv
    by Member on Oct. 11, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Poor mama and baby.

    virginiamama71
    by Carrie on Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:20 PM

     Very sad

    egyptian_mommy
    by Michelle on Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:34 PM
    Poor Mei Xiang :-(
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