The zoo does not yet know the cubs' sexes or names
Meng Meng is officially a mom!
The Berlin Zoo announced Monday that its resident panda, Meng Meng, had given birth to twins, marking the first time one of the rare animals has given birth Germany, according to The Guardian.
“The joyous event came just one week after experts from Zoo Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) were able to perform an ultrasound scan that determined Meng Meng was indeed pregnant,” a zoo press release read. The previous release on Meng Meng’s confirmed pregnancy posited the panda was only pregnant with one cub.
At six years old, Meng Meng carried her babies for a gestation period of 147 days before giving birth.
The first cub was successfully delivered Saturday evening at and the second followed nearly an hour later at, the babies weighing in at 186g and 136g respectively. The zoo does not yet know the cubs’ sexes or names.
The announcement was posted to Twitter alongside an adorable video of Meng Meng nursing and caring for her tiny cubs, responding to their loud squeaks.
“Meng Meng and her two cubs coped well with the birth and are all in good health,” the zoo’s director, Andreas Knieriem, said in a statement.
“Even though these are the first offspring born to our young female panda, she is already doing a wonderful job as a mum. In the beginning, the young have to feed roughly every two to three hours and are dependent on the body heat of their mother to keep warm.”
Currently, the press release noted, the cubs are alternating between three-hour shifts with their mother and time in an incubator.
The babies do not resemble their adult counterparts at birth. Panda cubs are born with fine white down, long tails and pink skin.
According to the outlet, China participates in “panda diplomacy,” meaning the country gives some of their endangered animals to other countries who maintain a good relationship with the nation. This is how the Berlin Zoo took in Meng Meng and the 9-year-old panda dad, Jiao Qing as a loan in June 2017.
In return, the zoo pays $15 million to host the pandas for 15 years, which mostly helps to fund a conservation and breeding research program for the animals in China.
“There are only 1,864 adult pandas currently living in their natural habitat,” says Knieriem. “As a result, every single new cub represents an important contribution to the conservation of the species,” Knieriem added.
The last panda given to Germany was Bao Bao, who died in 2012, at age 34, as one of the oldest male pandas in the world.
Any pandas born in the country the are loaned to, including Meng Meng’s twins, have to be sent back to China four years after they have been weaned from their mothers, The Guardian reported.
Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller also commented with excitement on the pandas birth: “What fantastic news! The whole of Berlin is delighted about the new arrivals, and I would like to personally congratulate Andreas Knieriem and the Zoo team. Soon, Berliners will be flocking to admire the city’s new black- and-white twins – something that is only possible thanks to the impressive professionalism and remarkable passion of so many people.”