First Surviving Panda Triplets Cute As They Sound
For the first time panda triplets have all survived long enough to be introduced to the world. We’ll just take a moment so that everyone who has not already heard the news can go “squee” or “awww”, as you prefer.
The babies were born on July 29, but the Chimelong Safari Park held back on announcing the happy news to the world as many panda cubs die in the first few days after birth. All three are so far doing well, and have nearly doubled their birthweight. Pandas have the lowest weight at birth relative to the parent of any placental (non-marsupial) mammal. One of the only previously known panda triplets died in 1999 three days after being born.
Besides their epic cuteness, panda births are exciting because they’re fundamentally bad at breeding. The species is listed as endangered because habitat destruction has driven pandas out of lowland areas, reducing numbers in the wild to less than 2000. Moreover, despite huge demand from zoos, only a few hundred exist in captivity because they haven’t really got their heads around this whole sex thing.
Efforts have been made to coach them by filming mating activity and showing it to other pandas, or giving them Viagra. Births are rising through a suite of interventions, in this trio’s case through artificial insemination.
Panda twins are common in the wild, but the mother does not have enough milk for two and abandons the weaker cub. Their mother, Juxiao, could certainly not raise all three, but naturally Chimelong staff are doing everything they can to ensure the triplets beat the odds – more than half the pandas born in captivity fail to make it to adulthood.
China Daily. Juxiao holding one of her cubs
Traditionally baby pandas are not named until they reach 100 days, both because the death rate prior to that is so high, and to give plenty of time for community input.
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