August 2: It's a Boy!
This morning, Mei left the cub at 8:10 to get a drink of water and eat some bamboo for several minutes in the nearby indoor exhibit. While she was urinating and defecating, we closed the den door to assess Mei's reaction. Since Mei did not react to the door being closed, we went to retrieve the cub for its first exam. We were wobbly kneed with excitement.
At the cub's first exam, conducted by Dr. Sharon Deem, associate veterinarian, Laurie Perry, animal keeper, and Lisa Stevens, assistant curator, we learned that it's a boy! He looks healthy, weighs 1.82 pounds (825.7 grams), and has a total body length of 12 inches (30 cm). We were able to get a heart rate and respiration. The cub was very quiet during the nine-minute exam, and let out only one squawk when its mouth was examined. It is very solid and sturdy and extremely cute.
Mei Xiang was given access to her cub at 8:36 a.m. During the exam, she had been anxious, standing up and pawing at the door, and attempting to open the window. When the door was opened, she immediately retrieved the cub and examined it. She settled down quickly, curling up in her favorite position, enveloping the cub between her body and the wall, and went to sleep. What a morning for all of us!
Yesterday evening, Mei Xiang left the cub to eat twice. She listened intently to the cub while she ate just outside the den doorway. One ear seems always to be turned in the cub's direction.
When will the cub open its eyes? How fast will it grow? Answers to these questions and more.
What are National Zoo scientists doing to ensure a future for giant pandas? Find out about their work in
The Science of Saving Pandas.
Due to very heavy traffic, you may not be able to view the cam. Please try again later.
View Cam on Animal Planet Website
Panda photo gallery |Help with cam
Watching a giant panda mother and baby: The panda cams provide a window into the world of the Zoo's new giant panda mother, Mei Xiang. She gave birth to a cub on July 9. Newborn pandas weigh just a few ounces, so the baby may be difficult to spot. You may see it being cradled and nursing.
Giant Panda Facts | Help Us Protect Giant Pandas
August 1: Hundreds of Cub Vocalizations
The past three days have been uneventful. Mei and the cub are doing fine. The cub continues to look bigger every day. It is more and more visible when it is held or being repositioned. Some nursing has been observed, usually lasting only one to three minutes at a time, although one session was recorded for seven minutes.
The most common vocalization from the cub is grunting. We recorded 278 in a three-hour shift—a record for our cub! It is believed that this vocalization may correlate with nursing. Mei continues to place the cub briefly in the nest as though she is thinking about leaving, but then picks it up again.
We can see fairly clearly when Mei is licking the cub's ano-genital area to stimulate urination and defecation. However, we cannot see clearly enough to determine whether it is a boy or girl! The cub looks pink and squeaky clean when we get a look at it from the den door.
July 30: Three Weeks Old Today
Yes, it's hard to believe it's been three weeks already since the birth of the cub. By all accounts, Mei is adapting to motherhood perfectly and the cub is growing before our eyes, already showing the distinctive black and white markings.
Mei stayed with her cub all day yesterday, never venturing out from her den. She nibbles on the bamboo she has stored in her den over the past few days.
The indoor area of the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat is closed for about three months to minimize disturbing Mei and her new cub. Visitors can see Tian Tian when he is outdoors, weather permitting. During the hottest part of the day, Tian often stays indoors in the air-conditioning, so it's best to visit in the early morning.
Giant pandas are black and white bears that live in temperate-zone bamboo forests in central China. Among the best recognized—but rarest—animals in the world, they have come to symbolize endangered species and conservation efforts. As few as 1,600 giant pandas survive in the mountain forests of central China. Another 120 are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and about 20 live in zoos outside China.
Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are at the National Zoo on a ten-year loan from the China Wildlife Conservation Association. They are the focus of an ambitious research, conservation, and breeding program designed to preserve this critically endangered species.
Help Us Protect Giant Pandas
We need your help to support ongoing research and conservation projects by National Zoo scientists to protect giant pandas at the Zoo and in their native China. You can help support these conservation efforts by giving to the Giant Panda Conservation Fund. Donate now.