According to the country’s Xinhua News Agency, the panda, named Lee, gave birth to the Giant Panda at China Conservation and Research Centre. Zoo experts said the new baby panda twins were an “unexpected” arrival, as pandas don’t usually give birth in springtime.
But for Lee, the Mother, there was nothing new about the births. The cubs were small and pink, but soon enough, they will grow a widely recognized black and white coat. But the panda twins 2020 won’t be grown-ups for quite a while: Giant pandas take four to six years to fully mature, according to China Highlights. New mother Lee didn’t even know she had panda twins born because her keepers had her 18-day-old cubs switched out, so she only has one at a time.
Keepers have to trick her into believing she just had one baby
When a mother panda has given birth to new baby panda twins at Giant Panda Breeding’s Chengdu Research Base, the team uses a bit of sleight of hand to keep both cubs alive. Keepers remove one of the cubs shortly after birth, tricking the mother into thinking she has one baby. The new baby panda twins are then swapped to 10 times a day to maintain the illusion of a single baby panda. One cub is with the mother for more time than the other who is placed in an incubator. It is generally fed on formula milk.
Most of the pandas during birth result in twins; however, giant pandas have to unknowingly almost always abandon a cub in case they give birth to more than one. The explanation for this is that the mother won’t have enough milk or energy to take care of two.
The process of coxing the panda
The keepers distract Lee with a bowl of honey water when they need to change the cubs out and worm the young cub off her paws. They then put that cub in an incubator and bring the other cub to Lee, making sure that they both receive the maternal care they need. Not wanting to distress the panda, it is necessary to repeat this negotiation until the mother panda trusts the keeper entirely and let them handle her cub.
The method also opens the possibility of a survival rate of 100 percent in captive panda cubs. It’s an issue the Chengdu Research Base has tackled for decades. Before 1990, the twin survival rate was only 30%.
The technique has a survival rate of almost 100 percent. Although pandas are no longer endangered, they are still vulnerable; therefore, it is essential to find new ways of helping the species along, even in captivity.