When Mei Xiang, the National Zoo´s giant panda, gave birth to twins last Saturday, August 22, she made headlines and pictures of the baby pandas hit headlines across the world. The zoo has decided to allow one baby to spend time with their mother at a time, rotating them an approximate four hours each. This, according to zoo staffers, will allow each to be nursed and to spend time with Mei Xiang. When pandas have twins, they will usually take care of one and let the other one to die.
PETA has released a statement condemning such a decision. "Removing babies as if they're nothing more than future exhibits to be preserved and treating the mother panda as simply a baby-making machine while disrespecting and disregarding her maternal instincts as well as fighting with her to remove her infants in the name of 'animal science' is unethical, unthinkable and wrong," said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s President, on the statement.
The cub that is not with the mother is kept in an incubator and bottle-fed. Apparently, Mei Xiang has not been too cooperative in terms taking care of her cubs. The larger cub, weighing 138 g, had been with Mei Xiang since Monday 2pm and caretakers had not been able to switch them. The smaller one, weighing 86 grams at birth was showing signs of regurgitation and weight fluctuations.
Today at approximately 2pm Central Time, the National Zoo announced the death of the smaller cub and scheduled a press conference at 4 pm.
National Zoo’s giant panda was artificially inseminated on April. She is the mother of Tai Shan, born in 2005 and Bao Bao, born in 2013. The mother panda gave birth in 2012 but that cub also died a few days later.