September 17th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

Giant panda at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo gives birth

A 14-year-old gave birth Sunday night, and Monday was on her way to becoming a reality TV star.

The teenager is Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. It was her second successful pregnancy with 15-year-old Tian Tian, the zoo's male giant panda, in seven years.

"We are thrilled that Mei Xiang had a successful pregnancy since 2005," said Dennis Kelly, the zoo's director. "I'm cautiously optimistic as we haven't seen the cub yet, but we know that Mei is a good mother. Like everyone else, I’m glued to the panda cam for my first glimpse of the cub!”

Kelly isn't the only one watching the "panda cam" that monitors the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. So many people are trying to get a glimpse of the new cub that the streaming video online is getting jammed. You can try to access the view here or from the zoo's website. MTV and TLC, take notice.

People's excitement to see the new cub comes partly because there aren't that many pandas to see. The giant panda is one of the most endangered species in the world. There are estimated to be only 1,900 still in existence - well,  now 1,901.

One reason for the small number of pandas is their low success rate when it comes to mating. Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated, and she went through the procedure several times before finally getting pregnant. The chances of Mei Xiang conceiving a cub after five consecutive pseudopregnancies since 2007 was estimated to be less than 10%.

Baby panda: A future we can believe in

Well, they say timing is everything when it comes to conceiving.

According to a press release from the National Zoo, timing was probably a contributing factor for Mei Xiang. This April, she returned to a more normal estrus cycle. From 2009 to 2011 she went into estrus in January.

Mei Xiang (pronounced may-SHONG)  and Tian Tian are part of the Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement signed in January 2011 by the zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This agreement is intended to help scientists do research on the panda, preserve the species, and breed them.

"The most important thing we do is research to help save this species and lots of other species," said Kelly to a crowd of reporters. "Conservation is costly, saving species is costly, and we're proud to participate."

The agreement extends the zoo’s giant panda program through 2015.

That's plenty of time for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to possibly have another cub. It also gives cable networks time to get their cameras and contracts ready. Don't be surprised if you see "Panda and Pregnant" or "A Panda's Baby Story" coming to a TV near you.

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Filed under: Animals • China • District of Columbia
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Sinfully Yours

    Panda is tasty. I prefer mine medium rare with a side of bamboo and a wonton soup appetizer.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • doubledees

      some people have a warped sense of humor

      September 18, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    Pandas are cute, but never cross paths with a fully grown Panda....It will tear you to pieces!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I see you speak from your own vast experience of getting torn into pieces.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • assorted body parts

      it's true!

      September 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      It is, because he read it on the internetz.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThoughtProcess

      It is absurdly hard to randomly cross paths with a Giant Panda but it is possible to do if you are seriously determined. The best spot in all of China to take a try at it is in the Ch'ingling Mountains (Foping is the better spot). Though you may get lucky sooner, you would likely need to spend better than one full week (took me 11 days) to see one in the wild. And so you know, no they will not tear you to pieces.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      Sweet! Time for me to book a Panda Safari!!! It will compliment my wall of vicious animal trophies. Not sure if I should mount its head next to my killer manatee trophy or my stuffed hamster: it took me weeks to track that killer down when he snuck out of his cage. And I am glad I did too: he killed my pet poodle before I finally took the beast down.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Reader # 4,263

    Here comes Honey Boo Boo.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Forget her. Bunny hoo hoo has the stuff you want.

      September 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Bunny hoo hoo?

      September 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    @ ABS. lol

    September 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO ©

    The government should declare a war on viscious giant pandas.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      These things are so vicious! I am surprised that no NFL team has been nicknamed the Pandas. Perhaps, Miami should think about renaming themselves the Miami Panda's. Then they might actually win some games.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • assorted body parts

      I'LL say they're vicious! LOOK at me!

      September 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MarkDylo

    PANDA WATCH!!!!!!!!!!
    The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports but nothing quite like this. I uh... Ching... King is inside right now. I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's a live bear, he will literally rip your face off.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat)©

    One day a panda walkes into a bar. He orders a burger then after eating the burger takes out a gun and shoots every customer in the bar and then he leaves. The bartender comes running out asking why he shot all of his customers. The panda tells the bartender to look up panda in the encyclopedia when he gets home. So sure enough when the bartender gets home he looks up panda in the encyclopedia and it says eats shoots and leaves.

    September 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Helllllllllo, Rawr!

      September 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Hello banasy

      How are you today ? We are gettong some kind of wicked storms doen here today. Like the way I stayed on topic ? Well for this one anyway.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I'm fine, bciah.
      It's picture-perfect here, weatherwise...stay safe.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    Lol...this will get deleted too...but I'm glad I saw it!

    September 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Q: What goes black, white, black, white, black, white?

    September 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Michael Jackson?

      September 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hollywood

    Does anyone take these stories seriously or just speak gibberish?

    September 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      You're new here, aren't you.

      September 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Romney

    Thanks GOD. I was so worried.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rascal Rabble

    mmmm...i wonder if they put that bear on fertility shots....

    September 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    BOMBO, darlin', you're on a roll today...

    September 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Name s kel

    Thats why the traffic in Rock Creek Park in DC, going to the zoo entrence was backed up today, lol tourist......

    September 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marci

    Happy Birthday 2 U

    September 18, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
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