A 15-year-old panda, Lun Lun, has given birth to twins at the Zoo Atlanta.
The newborns are newsworthy because they mark the first time that panda twins have been born in the United States in 26 years, with the last pair born in 1987.
“On the few ultrasound images that mom actually cooperated with, we only saw one developing fetus,” Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, explained.
Lun Lun gave birth at 6:21 and 6:23pm and the gender of the babies have not been released yet. Their father is another 15-year-old panda, Yang Yang, and they are the result of artificial insemination. The newborns have two older brothers at the zoo, Xi Lan, 4, and Po, 2 (named after Jack Black’s character in Kung Fu Panda).
The twins were separated shortly after birth, one staying with Lun Lun while the other is cared for by the zoo staff. In the wild, a panda mother will only care for one baby and leave the other to die (“It’s physically difficult for the mother panda to manipulate more than one cub,” Lawson says).
Zoo officials say they may rotate the two cubs over the next few months so that each has time to be cared for by Lun Lun.
Photo: Adam K Thompson/Atlanta Zoo