Newborn Giant Panda Cub Dies & Our Nation Mourns the Loss Along With Mei Xiang

Heartbreaking 29

Mei XiangSome extremely sad news comes out of our nation's capital today, as the new giant panda cub has died. Just last week the world celebrated the birth of the unexpected cub, and today zoo officials found it dead, after hearing cries of distress from its mother, Mei Xiang.

The National Zoo tweeted this morning: "We are brokenhearted to share that we have lost our little giant panda cub."

Dennis Kelly, director of the zoo, expressed his grief in a news conference today over the cub, who had not yet been named: "This is devastating for all of us here. It's hard to describe how much passion and energy and care has gone into this."

If you remember, it was just this past May when we were watching the live tweets from the zoo as Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated. There was less than a 20 percent chance that she would get pregnant, but she did, and it was a great moment for the zoo and the world when the cub was born.

But that joy didn't last, and zoo officials aren't sure why. According to the  Associated Press, there were "no outward signs of trauma or infection." While hopefully they will be able to determine what happened, the loss is devastating no matter the cause of death.

"These bears are so critically endangered that every panda cub is important," Suzan Murray, the zoo's chief veterinarian, told CNN.

This cub's birth came after years of hoping and trying for another addition to the family. To see its life end so suddenly is devastating, and it must be especially so for Mei Xing. After the cub's birth, Murray had written:

Mei Xiang is behaving exactly the same way she did when Tai Shan was born. She is cradling her cub closely, and she looks so tired, but every time she tries to lay down, the cub squawks and she sits right up and cradles the cub more closely. She is the poster child for a perfect panda mom.

Here she was with the cub:

And now she has lost her baby. While I don't believe animals feel emotion exactly the same way humans do, she is inevitably feeling a loss and hurting along with the many people around the world who have become so passionate about these beautiful animals.

 Are you surprised to hear this sad news?


Image via Marit & Toomas Hinosaar/Flickr

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PinkB... PinkButterfly66

The author did not do her research.  The current pair of pandas are on loan from China.  They arrived in the 2000.

The Zoo's two adult giant pandas arrived on December 6, 2000. Ever since the National Zoo received Hsing-Hsing (1970–99) and Ling-Ling (1969–92) from China in 1972 as part of President Nixon's historic visit, scientists here have been leaders in the field of giant panda biology and conservation. The Zoo is continuing that leadership through research involving the new pandas and research in China that will help save giant pandas in the wild. Furthermore, giant pandas can inspire visitors to care for wildlife and threatened ecosystems around the world. They are ambassadors for conservation.



PinkB... PinkButterfly66


Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are the National Zoo's second pair of giant pandas. Both were born at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province. They are together for most of the day. It can be hard to tell the adult giant pandas apart, but Mei Xiang and Tian Tian do have a few differences, which are described below.


The first panda offspring, Tai Shan (tie-SHON) was born early in the morning on July 9, 2005. Tai Shan, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian's first offspring, left the Zoo on February 4, 2010.




PinkB... PinkButterfly66


Mei Xiang and Tian Tian belong to China and came to the Zoo in 2000 for ten years as part of a research, conservation and breeding program. On January 20, 2011, a new agreement was signed (effective through December 5, 2015), stipulating that the Zoo will conduct research in the areas of breeding and cub behavior. The first two years of the agreement include a cooperative study involving reproductive experts from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; they will oversee the breeding of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

If, after two years, either panda is found unsuitable for breeding, the two institutions will discuss the possibility of exchanging them with breeding pandas from China.

wamom223 wamom223

Maybe animals don't have emotions just like us but they have them.  I have two dogs and when one was gone for a week at pet ER we had a lot of trouble with the other one.  He seemed so lost, and we couldn't explain to him what was wrong.  Finally we told the vet on day four we had to bring our other dog in to know his brother was okay.  They both did so much better after that.  These are two dogs that have been together since they were three months old and they had such a hard time.   I can't imagine what the mother panda is going through right now.  This is a truly heartbreaking story, for all of us, but mostly for a mama that lost her baby.

zombi... zombiemommy916

Living so close to DC, the kids and I followed this story closely, and were thrilled to learn of the new baby and couldn't wait for the day we would finally get to visit and see this little miracle...such a sad day today, and even though she isn't human like the rest of us, my heart aches for Mei Xiang...she's a grieving mother regardless...

Maias... MaiasMommy619

Didn't know the whole nation was mourning....?

cabab... cababylon

I have a hard time understanding how you think a mother of another species doesn't feel the loss of her child the same way we do. You realize there are human mot

cabab... cababylon

Grrr...stupid phone. I was saying there are human mothers who torture and murder their children. I'd say I have more emotions in common with a panda than with them.

cocob... cocobeannns

I have a hard time understanding why you don't believe animals share emotions the same as humans as well. Can't you see she is in complete distraught over the loss of her baby? Wouldn't you feel the same way? I certainly believe most animals feel and grieve the way we do. Our dogs have been seperated from us before for a period of time, and they went into seperation anxiety. We lost a puppy recently and our oldest dog mourned like he was her own. She grieved to the point of making herself sick.

It's just ignorance to think otherwise.

abra819 abra819

excuse me, but YOU have no idea how an animals feels after the loss of their children. Total and absolute moron you are.

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