A giant panda named Lun Lun at Zoo Atlanta gave birth to twins Monday evening, the zoo announced on its website. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. since 1987. The first was born at 6:21 p.m. EDT and the second followed two minutes later at 6:23.
PandaCam live stream footage of Lun Lun with her twin cubs can be watched by clicking this link, courtesy of EarthCam. The footage is runs 24 hours a day and viewers can see the new momma nurse her little ones in real time. Currently, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are taking care of one of the cubs in the nursery unit in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center, but the other is being looked after by Lun Lun.
According to the zoo’s website, the panda is an “experienced and capable mother” but this is her first time giving birth to twins, which is a little odd for giant pandas since twins are common for the species. In the wild, mother pandas usually only take care of one of the twins, leaving the other to perish, but the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams will be helping Lun Lun take care of both cubs. This way she is not overexerted and both twins survive.
"It's physically difficult for the mother panda to manipulate more than one cub," Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, told Reuters. It was a happy surprise when the team found out Lun Lun was going to have twins. "On the few ultrasound images that Mom actually cooperated with, we only saw one developing fetus,” he said.
Right now the sex of the cubs has not been determined, according to Reuters, and they are pink, hairless and blind. Their weight and size is similar to a stick of butter. But they won’t stay that way for long if they go on to live healthy lives. Mom Lun Lun weighs more than 200 pounds.
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According to Lawson, the twins will be named in consultation with experts in China once they turn 100 days old.