San Diego Zoo Celebrates Birth Of Panda Cub

Cub Born Sunday To Giant Panda Bai Yun

The San Diego Zoo's "PandaCam" focused Monday on the den of giant panda Bai Yun, who gave birth to her sixth cub over the weekend.

 

» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter

The black-and-white image showed a curled-up Bai Yun, but the newborn was difficult to see.

"Giant Pandas don't really put their cubs down for any length of time, they cradle them constantly pretty much," explained San Diego Zoo lead animal keeper Lisa Martin.

According to the zoo, animal care staffers had caught only glimpses of the cub born Sunday, but could hear its cries and calls. The behavior appeared to be normal, zoo officials said.

Newborn giant panda cubs are born pink and hairless, with eyes sealed shut, and weigh an average of 4 ounces. Their trademark black-and-white markings develop within the first few months.

The sex of the cub will not be known until it is examined by animal care staff, which should happen in about two months.

"Typically giant pandas learn to climb before they learn to walk really well," said Martin.

The cub's father, Gao Gao, toasted his new baby with some tasty bamboo in the next pen. Five of the 6 pandas born at the zoo are his and Bai Yun's.

The last cub born at the San Diego Zoo was a male, Yun Zi, on Aug. 5, 2009. Yun Zi means "son of cloud."

Sunday's birth makes 20-year-old Bai Yun one of the oldest giant pandas known to give birth to a cub.

This is also the sixth cub born at the San Diego Zoo, which is the most born at a breeding facility outside of China. All six giant panda cubs have been born to Bai Yun.

"I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, look, we have to go to the zoo," said Jane Blaubelt of Massachusetts, describing her reaction when she first heard about the birth.

The vacationing Blaubelt family decided to go to the zoo because of the new addition.

"They're really cute, and I've never been to a zoo with pandas before," said Sarah Blaubelt.

But brother Danny Blaubelt had hoped to see the newborn panda.

"I'm a little disappointed that the baby panda's not around though," Danny Blaubelt said.

Could there be more babies for Bai Yun?

"That remains to be seen, we'll deal with the cub we have right now," said Martin.

Yun Zi is the only sibling left, as the others were returned to China's breeding program at age 3. Yun Zi turns 3 on Sunday.

The program is crucial because scientists believe there are only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild.

The pandas are on loan to the zoo, which pays $500,000 a year to China's Panda Conservation Program.

The current loan agreement is almost over and would have to be renewed for the pandas to stay.

To view the zoo's PandaCam, click here.