Lun Lun the pregnant Zoo Atlanta panda has given birth to not one, but two healthy panda cubs. The 19-year-old mom welcomed the double bundle of joy on September 3, less than two weeks after Animal Planet set up a live cam in the panda’s birthing den.
It appears Lun Lun loves things that come in pairs, because this is the second set of twins for the Atlanta panda. The pair, who remain unnamed, is the first set of panda twins born in the United States this year.
The first cub arrived at 7:20 a.m., leaving keepers anxiously awaiting the arrival of the other half. The time in between births of panda twins can last several days. There is also the possibility that the second fetus could be reabsorbed and not born at all; fetal absorption is not uncommon in pandas. So, Zoo Atlanta’s staff was ecstatic when the second cub arrived at 8:07 a.m.
“We’re thrilled and relieved that the second of Lun Lun’s twins has arrived. While we were aware of the possibility that the two might not be born close together, we were also aware of the possibility that the second fetus could be reabsorbed, resulting in a failed pregnancy,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions in a statement about the birth. “Our focus now will be the care and monitoring of the cubs and Lun Lun to ensure that both cubs have the best opportunity to succeed.”
Born blind, pink and smaller than the palm of your hand, a panda cubs are especially fragile in their first days of life. To ensure both of Lun Lun’s cubs stay healthy, the zoo will be swapping the bears: one baby staying with Lun Lun and the other staying under the professional care of the nursery. The cubs will be alternated regularly, so each newborn has equal time to bond with mom.
The twosome arrived just in time to celebrate the panda’s removal off the endangered species list, a feat possible thanks in part to facilities like Zoo Atlanta. The zoo plans to debut the baby bears to the public in December of this year or January 2017.