WASHINGTON -- Washington, D.C.’s, baby giant panda died of lung and liver damage, the National Zoo said Thursday, citing the high mortality rate for cubs.
The lungs of the 6-day-old cub were "poorly developed and likely caused her to have insufficient oxygen,’’ according to a necropsy.
The mortality rate for pandas in their first year in captivity is estimated to be 26% for males and 20% for females, zoo officials said.
"We are working with our colleagues in China to answer questions about giant pandas that will ensure the best care in captivity and that will help bolster the species’ numbers in the wild,’’ the zoo said in a statement. "The information about how this cub died will add to the scientific body of knowledge about giant pandas. The zoo will continue to work closely with its Chinese colleagues and share the information it has learned about giant panda reproduction and cub health.’’
The Sept. 16 birth of the panda, which had yet to be named, made it an instant celebrity in the nation’s capital, but excitement turned to grief after the cub, about four ounces, died less than a week later.