What's black, white, and healthy all over? The National Zoo's panda cub!

By Kelli Bender
September 15, 2020 04:52 PM
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Smithsonian National Zoo

The good news is growing at the National Zoo.

Three weeks after the exciting birth of their new panda cub, the National Zoo was able to perform their first neonatal exam on the baby animal.

According to a release from the Washington D.C. zoo, keepers seized the opportunity to check on the cub when mom Mei Xiang left the den on Monday to eat some bamboo.

"During the quick checkup, keepers weighed the active and responsive newborn. It tips the scales at 634.8 grams—just under 1.5 pounds! We are encouraged to see that our young panda appears to be healthy and vibrant," the zoo wrote of the speedy procedure.

Along with the exam, keepers snapped a few close-ups of the cub, who is starting to grow their iconic black-and-white coat. Over the next few weeks, keepers expect for the little panda to start opening their eyes.

The zoo did not determine the sex of the cub during the brief exam for two reasons. First, Mei Xiang was only away from her den for a short time, so keepers were careful to handle the cub as little as possible. Second, male and female panda cubs look alike when they are young, so a DNA test is the best way to determine the sex of panda early on. As Mei Xiang gets more comfortable taking breaks away from her baby, the zoo's keepers will be able to perform longer check-ups. The National Zoo hopes to get a cheek swab from the cub for DNA testing during one of these future exams.

Smithsonian National Zoo

To keep up to date on all the recent panda cub happenings, you can check in on Mei Xiang and her cub on the National Zoo's Panda Cam.