Squawking Panda Cub Demands Attention From Mom

Mei Xiang briefly set down her newborn cub overnight, allowing keepers to get a closer look

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pandas: They're just like us.

    Okay, maybe they don't have jobs or car insurance bills. But the National Zoo's giant panda mom is plenty familiar with hearing a baby's demanding cries in the middle of the night.

    The zoo released panda cam footage of Mei Xiang briefly ignoring her 6-day-old cub around 3:37 a.m. Thursday. But the cub decided that personal time for Mama simply wasn't acceptable.

    Upon being placed alone on the ground, the cub began violently shaking its head back and forth, and squawking repeatedly -- and loudly. Zookeepers noted that the little one has "a great set of lungs."

    All in all, the cub was alone for just 25 seconds before its devoted mom picked it up again.

    The view of the cub -- who's rarely left Mei Xiang's arms since its birth Friday -- was reassuring for zookeepers, who have only been able to examine it once so far.

    "The tiny cub has a round belly, which indicates that it is nursing well," zoo staff noted.

    The sex of the cub remains unknown.

    A second exam attempt was thwarted by a protective Mei Xiang earlier this week. Instead, keepers are monitoring Mei and the cub from afar.

    "They will allow Mei Xiang's behaviors [to] direct how they access the cub," the zoo said. "All visual indications tell animal care staff that both bears are thriving."

    The zoo said Mei is "very aware" when keepers enter her den space to offer her food. She drank 56 ounces of diluted apple juice Thursday, which keepers say is a good sign. Giant pandas don't eat or drink much immediately following a birth.

    The cub was born late Friday afternoon, about two hours after Mei unexpectedly went into labor. Mei Xiang also delivered a stillborn, malformed twin the following day.

    Although the zoo had been keeping her on a 24-hour pregnancy watch, it had been unclear whether Mei was actually pregnant or was just experiencing a false pregnancy.

    She's had two previous deliveries.

    A female cub was born last September, but lived only a week. In July 2005, Mei gave birth to the male Tai Shan, who was sent to join a breeding program China in 2010.

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