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“Yuan Zai” Promoted to Elder Sister After “Yuan Yuan” Gives Birth to a Baby Panda Girl!

At 8:58 AM yesterday (June 28th) the water broke for “Yuan Yuan,” a giant panda at Taipei Zoo. After five hours of labor, she finally gave birth to a female baby panda at 1:53 PM. The newborn baby panda was quite vocal. When “Yuan Yuan” heard the baby’s wails, she immediately tracked down the source, picked the baby up with her mouth and held it in her arms. Although the keepers usually prefer to let the mothers take care of their newborns, both the  fatigue from giving birth and a lack of experience caring for babies meant that “Yuan Yuan” was unable to fully take care of the baby herself. The keepers also found that the baby had not managed to nurse either. Therefore, after a careful assessment, the decision was made to hand feed the baby its first supplementary dose of milk. Upon retrieving the baby, it appeared to have suffered a back injury as well. The baby’s condition is now stable after careful treatment by the chief vet. The keepers are also continuing to collect the mother’s first milk Colostrum from “Yuan Yuan” to nurse the newborn with.
The Zoo team artificially inseminated the giant panda “Yuan Yuan” twice on February 26th and 27th of this year. On June 2nd, “Yuan Yuan” showed signs of disinterest in her usual carrot diet. Obvious changes to her external genitalia were observed on June 19th as it began to expand.
The keepers immediately began preparing to welcome the newborn. The keepers observed obvious birthing behavior by “Yuan Yuan” just before the Dragonboat Festival so placed her under 24-hour surveillance. On the morning of the last day of the Dragonboat Festival long weekend, “Yuan Yuan” was observed to be going into labor with her water breaking at 8:58 AM. She successfully gave birth to the baby after nearly 5 hours of labor at 1:53 PM. The birth was very uncomfortable for “Yuan Yuan” and she was quite restless – sometimes holding her head, sometimes stretching out, and sometimes laying on the ground in exhaustion. The only thing the keeper could do was keep “Yuan Yuan” company and give her sweet honey water to keep up her strength.
The newborn panda was found to have a back injury when it was born . It is now in stable condition after being treated by the vet. The Zoo has decided to hand  feed the baby panda for now and wait for an opportunity to return her to her mother “Yuan Yuan” once the wound heals. The baby panda is a girl like her older sister “Yuan Zai.” She is now being kept in an incubator and her birth weight was measured at 186g, a little heavier than her older sister! The keeper has collected the mother’s first milk for nursing the baby and her appetite has shown to be quite good.
For our second successful attempt at breeding the giant panda, the Zoo is grateful to the animal medical and treatment teams for looking after the health of the giant pandas. The professional assistance of the experts at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in China was also greatly appreciated as they provided remote timely guidance through our communications equipment. This latest success was the culmination of extensive collaboration and rapport built between the two sides.