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It's A Panda! Cub Is Born At National Zoo

Mei Xiang, who gave birth overnight, enjoying a piece of fruit on Dec. 19, 2011, at the National Zoo.
Fang Zhe
Xinhua /Landov
Mei Xiang, who gave birth overnight, enjoying a piece of fruit on Dec. 19, 2011, at the National Zoo.

There's great excitement at Washington's National Zoo this morning, where they're reporting "we have a giant panda cub!"

Officials write that, "according to chief veterinarian Suzan Murray:

"Mei Xiang is behaving exactly the same way she did when Tai Shan was born. She is cradling her cub closely , and she looks so tired, but every time she tries to lay down, the cub squawks and she sits right up and cradles the cub more closely. She is the poster child for a perfect panda mom."

The zoo has two "panda cams" here. Twitter users can follow the news with #cubwatch.

As the zoo reminds us:

"Our giant pandas are part of a breeding program that carefully matches potential giant panda parents in order to keep the population genetically healthy well into the future. On July 9, 2005, Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub. We learned on August 2, 2005, that the cub is male. On October 17, when he was 100 days old, he was named Tai Shan by a vote open to the public. More than 200,000 votes were cast. He left the Zoo for China on February 4, 2010. ...

"Any baby born to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian would belong to China, and the Zoo will send the offspring to China at about age four so that it can become part of the breeding population there."

A post from the past: "Bye Bye, Pandas" (marking the departure to China of Tai Shan and Atlanta's Mei Lan).

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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