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4-Day-Old Panda Cub, Deserted by Mother, Dies at Mexico City Zoo

June 19, 1987|From Reuters

MEXICO CITY — A panda cub that was rejected by its mother in favor of its younger twin died Thursday in the Chapultepec Zoo despite a four-day effort to save its life.

"If it was with pride that I announced the birth of the pandas in this zoo on Monday; now it is with sadness that I inform you that Ping-Ping has died," zoo director Maria Elena Hoyo told reporters through tears at a news conference in Mexico City.

The panda cub, whose name in Chinese means "peace," was abandoned Monday shortly after birth when its mother chose to protect her stronger twin.

According to zoo veterinarians, pandas tend only one infant, apparently because of the physical demands required in raising a cub.

Zoo officials immediately placed Ping-Ping in a specially built incubator in the zoo's hospital and began feeding it a diet based on dog's milk. A team of six veterinarians worked around the clock tending to the rare cub, which finally died of heart and lung failure, Hoyo said.

At death, Ping-Ping weighed 6.4 ounces and was 8.5 inches long. The surviving twin appears to be in good health, officials said, although its weight and size have not yet been determined.

The twins were the sixth and seventh offspring of Ying-Ying and Pe-Pe, which were donated to the zoo by China in 1975. Twins were also born in 1985 to Ying-Ying and Pe-Pe, with the smaller of the two dying two days after being abandoned.

Despite Thursday's loss, the zoo's panda program remains the most successful outside China. It has six pandas.

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