Surviving National Zoo Panda Cub Is Male

The National Zoo announced today the gender of its newborn panda cub.

— -- The Washington National Zoo revealed the gender of Mei Xiang’s baby panda cub, and it’s a boy.

Veterinarians at the Giant Panda Habitat performed genetic testing from swabs taken from inside the panda’s mouths.

Genetic testing also revealed the father of the baby panda. Tian Tian, the National Zoo’s male panda, sired the newborn.

The zoo has not decided on a name for the baby panda. Bao Bao, born in August 2013, was not named until 100 days after his birth.

The National Zoo does not expect the new panda to make his first public appearance with Mei Xiang until January 2016.

“I’m happy to say the results were very clear,” said Dr. Robert Fleischer, the head of the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics who performed the genetic testing to determine the sex.

The cub was born last Saturday with a fraternal twin sibling, who died Wednesday after struggling with respiratory issues from feeding complications. Results from a necropsy performed on the deceased male cub have not been shared, but zoo veterinarian Dr. Don Neiffer believes the cub died after food material entered the respiratory system, resulting in pneumonia.

Giant pandas have twins 50% of the time, according to Dr. Brandie Smith, associate director of animal care sciences for the National Zoo. Mei Xiang’s twin birth gave scientists the opportunity to observe how a panda mother juggles twins.

Dr. Smith explained that although Mei Xiang initially tried to handle both cubs, she eventually focused on one. Now she’s dedicated to nursing the surviving newborn male. “When the cub squeals, she pays attention,” said Smith.

While the tiny, pink baby panda only weighs 167 grams right now, as an adult panda he could reach a weight of 250 pounds.