August 3, 2005

Panda cub born at San Diego Zoo from natural mating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - San Diego Zoo on Wednesday welcomed
a new giant panda cub -- the second to be born in the United
States this year and one of the few of the endangered species
in captivity to be born naturally.

Zoo officials said the 4-ounce (113.5-gram) cub, whose name
and gender have yet to be determined, was born late on Tuesday.
Thirteen-year-old mother Bai Yun, on loan from China, was
originally carrying twins but one of the fetuses died in the

In Washington, Mei Xiang gave birth to a male panda cub at
the National Zoo last month after artificial insemination.

Giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed because
they are normally solitary creatures and the female is fertile
only 3-5 days a year.

But Bai Yun's new cub was the second to be born as a result
of natural mating with San Diego Zoo's male panda, Gao Gao.

"We have two really great adult bears. Gao Gao is very
interested in mating," said zoo spokeswoman Sharon Dewar. "Our
researchers have to study their behavior very carefully to know
the right point at which to put them together."

Under the agreement with China, the new cub will be named
by the Chinese after 100 days and it will be returned to its
native land of China when it is 3 years old.

It will be some time before the public gets a glimpse of
the cub, except through the zoo's "panda-cam" on its Web site,

"It will not be on show until the mother wants to take the
cub out and that will be several months," Dewar said.

Bai Yun gave birth in San Diego to twins in 2003 but only a
male panda, Mei Sheng, survived. She gave birth in 1999 through
artificial insemination to a female cub that was returned to
China in 2004.