The Smithsonian’s National Zoo treated animal lovers to a sweet surprise on Monday.
Six weeks ago, the zoo welcomed a very special arrival.
A giant panda cub was born to mother Mei Xiang. At 22, Mei Xiang is the oldest giant panda in the United States and the second oldest documented in the world to give birth.
Mei Xiang was impregnated via artificial insemination with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian, a 23-year-old male. It’s the first time a zoo in the United States experienced a successful pregnancy and birth via artificial insemination using only frozen semen.
The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is currently closed to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub.
Still, the zoo wants to keep fans updated on the newest member of its animal family.
On Monday, the zoo shared some exciting news. Zookeepers determined the sex of the now 6-week-old giant panda cub. Outwardly, male and female cubs appear identical at birth. To determine the sex, a cheek swab is taken for genetic testing.
To reveal the gender to fans, keepers provided some colored paint to the cub’s father, Tian Tian. He then made a painting with those paints. The adorable blue painting confirmed that the cub is a little boy.
Like his three older siblings, the cub will live at the zoo for the first four years of his life. As part of the zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the zoo move to China when they are 4 years old.
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