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Giant Panda Born At Zoo Atlanta

ATLANTA – September 3, 2016 – Lun Lun, a 19-year-old giant panda at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to a single cub at 7:20 a.m. on September 3, 2016. As recent ultrasounds have confirmed that Lun Lun was carrying twins, birthwatch continues for the delivery of her second cub. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are monitoring the single cub and Lun Lun, who appears to be providing appropriate maternal care.

It is possible for giant panda twins to be born days apart. While the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams continue 24-hour watch for the birth of the second cub, there remains the possibility that the second fetus may be resorbed, or reabsorbed, and will thus not be born. Fetal resorption is not uncommon in giant pandas, and may happen at any time during a giant panda pregnancy. As recently as an August 28 ultrasound, the Veterinary Team had detected the presence of two fetuses with heartbeats.

“We’re very excited about welcoming a new giant panda cub and continue to remain optimistic for the arrival of its twin. Because we know that giant panda fetuses can be resorbed, resulting in failed pregnancies, we are aware that this could be a possible outcome,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. “We continue to keep a close eye on Lun Lun and her newborn to ensure that the cub has the best possible chance of thriving.”

Giant panda cubs, which are born nearly hairless, blind and barely larger than a small cell phone, are some of the animal kingdom’s most fragile newborns, and their early days of life are critical. A preliminary veterinary checkup will be performed as soon as the team is able to temporarily remove the cub without disrupting Lun Lun’s care. The Zoo team is joined by two colleagues from the Zoo’s partner in giant panda conservation, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Lun Lun was artificially inseminated on March 28, 2016, and round-the-clock birthwatch began on August 22, 2016. Since the time of the artificial insemination, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams have been conducting regular ultrasounds and monitoring Lun Lun’s behavior, as well as monitoring hormone analyses conducted by David Kersey, PhD, an expert in giant panda endocrinology from Western University of Health Sciences.

Giant pandas represent Zoo Atlanta’s most significant financial investment in conservation. Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and more than 1,200 of these live inside nature reserves. Support from Zoo Atlanta benefits wild giant pandas living on eight of these reserves. In 2012, Zoo Atlanta and partner organizations, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Memphis Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global, received the International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for their commitment to the species. The award recognized exceptional efforts toward giant panda regional habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild.

The cub, which is the first giant panda born in the U.S. in 2016, is the sixth for Lun Lun and 18-year-old male Yang Yang. Their first three offspring, male Mei Lan (born 2006), male Xi Lan (born 2008) and female Po (born 2010), now reside at the Chengdu Research Base. Their fourth and fifth offspring, 3-year-old females Mei Lun and Mei Huan, reside at Zoo Atlanta and are the only twin giant pandas in the U.S.

Members and guests can expect to meet the cub in December 2016 or January 2017. Its father, Yang Yang, and sisters, Mei Lun and Mei Huan, will remain in their usual habitats and will not be introduced to the cub. This separation is normal for giant pandas, which are solitary in the wild.

Updates on the cub and Lun Lun will be provided as details are available. Follow mother and cub on PandaCam hosted by Animal Planet L!VE on zooatlanta.org/pandacam and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Rachel Davis Director of Communications

404.624.2812 – office

404.309.2238 – cell

rdavis@zooatlanta.org

About the giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta

The giant panda program at Zoo Atlanta dates to the mid-1990s, prior to the debut of giant panda pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang, who arrived in 1999 on loan from China. Zoo Atlanta initiated its giant panda loan with its primary Chinese partners, the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG), the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chengdu Zoo. Zoo Atlanta scientists developed a program focused on using behavioral and veterinary research to understand, support, and lengthen maternal care; improve reproductive success and well-being; understand giant pandas’ cognitive and perceptual abilities; and improve health, including preventative medicine. Zoo Atlanta’s relationship with the Chengdu Research Base and Chengdu Zoo also led to the creation of conservation education departments at these institutions – the first of their kind in Chinese zoos. In 2012, Zoo Atlanta and partners Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Memphis Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global earned the prestigious International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for their long-term commitment to the species. To date, six surviving giant panda cubs have been born at Zoo Atlanta: Mei Lan (2006); Xi Lan (2008); Po (2010); Mei Lun and Mei Huan (2013); and a new cub born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016. Mei Lan, Xi Lan and Po currently reside at the Chengdu Research Base.

About Zoo Atlanta

Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in 2015 and is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. Zoo highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas, lemurs, Sumatran tigers and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.

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