WASHINGTON, September 23, 2012 — Fans of the giant panda Mei Xiang and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo community mourn the loss of the panda cub born Sunday, Sept. 16th.
An endangered species in the wild, the live birth of the cub in captivity became a relief from the political news that has overtaken the inside-the-beltway crowd. According to the National Zoo, Giant pandas live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a dense understory of bamboo, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
An ever growing population and insatiable demand for resources is contributing to the destruction of the panda’s habitat, including the bamboo forests which are the mainstay of the Panda’s diet. Because of this the beloved animals are dying out.
While many groups and concerned persons are taking measures to save the panda population, there are only 1600 left in the wild. Mei Xiang giving birth to a cub had therefore been met with nothing short of optimistic enthusiasm.
The cub’s death was noticed after Mei Xiang began distress vocalizations. Veternary staff responded immediately but were unable to save the cub. Hindering their efforts was an inability to safely retrieve the cub for an extended length of time.
At this time the zoo has revealed that the cub was in good apparent physical condition, and showed no outward sign of trauma or infection.
Fourteen-year-old Mei Xiang has sufered five failed pregnancies. This cub was conceived by artificial insemination after she and the zoo’s male, Tian Tian, failed to mate.
Only one panda cub born at the National Zoo has survived so far.
A press conference is planned for Monday afternoon at the National Zoo.
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