One Giant Panda Cub at National Zoo Draws Concern

The fluctuating weight of a panda cub in DC is drawing concern from zoo staff.

— -- One of the newborn panda cubs at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian National Zoo is sparking concern from veterinary staff because its weight has been fluctuating and it has been suffering from digestive issues, according to officials from the Zoo.

Mei Xiang, the mother of the two cubs born on Saturday, has been refusing to allow the zoo’s “panda team” to switch out the two cubs from her care since 2 p.m. Monday afternoon.

The panda team is caring for the smaller cub, but is worried about its fluctuating weight. The cub has shown signs of regurgitation, which can lead to breathing issues in such a small animal, though staff has not seen any indication of such problems.

To manage its condition, the team is bottle- and tube-feeding the cub as well as administering antibiotics and electrolyte solution through formulas and under the skin to ensure it gets proper fluids and nutrients.

The little cub’s behaviors are good and the team will continue efforts to swap the cubs about every four hours.

The larger cub is in Mei’s care and zoo officials say the cub is doing well.

Veterinarians say they are still in a high-risk time in their care for the cubs.

Veterinarians must switch out the cubs from the mother’s care because twins are often overwhelming to the mother. The panda team will alternately swap the cubs, allowing one to nurse and spend time with Mei Xiang while the other is being bottle fed and kept warm by zoo staff.

The zoo’s “panda team” consists of National Zoo staff, Asia Trail keepers, a panda keeper from Zoo Atlanta and additional veterinarian staff.