Twin giant pandas were born over the weekend, according to a wildlife center in southwestern China. The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda announced the birth.
The pandas’ mother, Haizi, gave birth to the twin cubs 10 minutes apart on Saturday. The wildlife center added that it is the first pair of the endangered species to be born in the world this year.
Giant pandas are critically endangered, making the birth of twin cubs a heartwarming and hopeful occasion. While the news is good, it will likely leave lovers of the giant mammals on edge as they wait for news of the youngsters’ health.
While the giant panda is one of the largest mammals, it is one of the most endangered as well. Only 1,600 pandas still exist in the wild, and their numbers are endangered because of poaching, development, and, in a small way, climate change.
More than 300 pandas are still living in captivity, mostly in China’s breeding programs. However, there are also giant pandas in United States zoos, on loan from China. The breeding programs are looked at as critical to the survival of the giant panda. And the Wolong Nature Reserve’s research center is no different.
While Haizi has yet to release one cub from her embrace, staffers were able to discover that the other cub is a female. She weighs just 2.79 ounces and is smaller than a stick of butter. The size makes the giant panda cubs incredibly delicate. As was seen last year in the United States, panda cubs that appear healthy after birth can pass away unexpectedly.
Along with their low numbers and their cubs’ vulnerability, giant pandas also have difficulty breeding. Females are only fertile two or three days per year, leaving a very small window of time for them to get pregnant.
It is likely that panda lovers everywhere will watch China as the twin giant panda cubs live through their first few days.