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The State

Panda Born in San Diego; Its Twin Is on the Way

August 20, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Giant panda Bai Yun gave birth to a cub Tuesday afternoon at the San Diego Zoo and another was on its way by evening.

The first twin was born in the panda's birthing den at 1:14 p.m.; the second was expected to arrive by early this morning. Both mother and baby were doing well, zoo employees said. Zoo officials haven't announced the gender or weight of the as-yet-unnamed baby panda.

They aren't sure who the father is. Bai Yun, 13, mated with Gao Gao in March, but was also artificially inseminated with sperm from the elderly Shi Shi, who is now in China. Employees discovered the pregnancy Aug. 3 and have been using an ultrasound to monitor progress.

Because a panda's gestation varies from 97 to 163 days, veterinarians could not determine how long Bai Yun had been pregnant or predict when she would give birth. They began 24-hour observation Thursday after they noticed a rapid increase in the development of the fetuses.

Pandas have twins in about 50% of births, but they reject one of the cubs immediately. Bai Yun is expected to nurse one twin, while zoo staff will bottle feed the other.

The twin who arrived Tuesday is the first giant panda born in North America since Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei four years ago.

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