Giant panda in Washington's National Zoo gives birth to cub

[InKunming--Sister Cities]  The Smithsonian National Zoological Park said here Saturday its female panda has given birth to a cub.

Mei Xiang, one of the two adult giant pandas which arrived here from China on Dec. 6, 2000, gave birth to a cub at 5:35 p.m. local time, the zoo confirmed in a short statement on its Twitter account.

If the cub survives, it would be the 17-year-old panda's third surviving offspring since her introduction to the National Zoo more than a decade ago.

Keepers from the zoo will be closely watching the cub in the coming days. It would take several days for experts to determine whether the cub is male or female.

Panda Mei Xiang gave birth to her first cub Tai Shan on July 9, 2005 and her second cub Bao Bao on Aug. 23, 2013. Apart from the two surviving cubs, Mei Xiang gave birth to another stillborn cub in 2013 and in 2012, she gave birth to a cub that died six days later.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, the zoo said large number of viewers seeking to watch the heroic panda's birth caused overload to its online live feed.

For enthusiastic fans of the panda family now residing in the U.S. capital city, however, they are not expected to see the new cub very soon. Bao Bao, Mei Xiang's second surviving cub, didn't make her public debut until five months after the birth.

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is one of the four zoos in the country to have giant pandas on loan from China. In accordance with an agreement signed between the two countries, the pandas and the cubs they produce in the States still belong to China. Tai Shan, Mei Xiang's first surviving cub, now lives in China, and Bao Bao will return to China after turning four.

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