Twin panda cubs born in Beijing, one dead, one sent away

16:53, July 06, 2010      

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A giant panda at the Beijing Zoo gave birth to twins last week, but the careless mother accidentally killed one after previously abandoning the other, zoo management confirmed Tuesday.

The twins, both females, were born Friday morning, said Zhang Jinguo, deputy president of the downtown Beijing Zoo.

Their mother, eight-year-old Yinghua, nursed only the first cub and ignored the second, Zhang said. "Mother pandas are always like that. Twins are rare and all mothers take only the first cub as their own."

The abandoned cub was quickly sent away to the southwestern Sichuan Province to be looked after.

Soon after tragedy struck, the mother panda crushed the remaining cub 20 hours after its birth.

The new mother, still clumsy and inexperienced, accidentally squashed her cub to death in a corner of the pen in the early hours Saturday, a zoo worker said.

"She had heard the cub crying for milk, and hurriedly turned her giant body around to nurse it," he said.

Video clips taken by a camera in the pen showed the cub was next to Yinghua. When the mother panda moved, her giant body crushed the cub.

Zoo workers had been told to leave the mother and cub alone unless human intervention was needed.

But human intervention came too late. "The cub was bleeding in the right shoulder and its lungs were also injured," said Zhang.

Zhang said it was the first such tragedy at the Beijing Zoo, where seven giant pandas lived in captivity. "Pandas have poor eyesight. Yinghua apparently didn't see the cub."

The abandoned cub turned out to be the lucky one: it arrived at Ya'an, a giant panda research and breeding base in the southwestern Sichuan Province Friday night.

Panda researchers in Ya'an said it weighed 109 grams and was in good health. It was put in intensive care and placed in an incubator. Experts said it would return to Beijing when it became adult.

Yinghua was born in Sichuan's Wolong and sent to Beijing in 2005 to help the breeding program at the zoo as there was a danger of interbreeding.

The most recent panda birth was reported at Beijing Zoo in 2007. The cub is now living in Ya'an.

Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species. Statistics from the State Forestry Administration show some 1,590 panda live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, and more than 210 live in captivity.

Source: Xinhua


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