Berlin’s zoo is celebrating after its resident panda, Meng Meng, gave birth to twins.
It’s the first time the rare, endangered mammal has given birth in Germany.
Zoo Berlin said today (September 2) that Meng Meng gave birth to a hand-sized pink cub at 18.54 on Saturday (August 31). An hour later, its twin was born.
Have a look at Meng Meng and one of her cubs below:
‘Meng Meng became a mom – twice! We are so happy, we are speechless,’ the zoo tweeted.
In a statement, the zoo said:
[Meng Meng] placed the tiny creature gently on her belly and began to warm it lovingly with her big paws, warm breath, and the soft fur of her cheeks.
Keepers confirmed Meng Meng was pregnant in late August. Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed – hence the celebration of the twins’ birth.
Meng Meng and nine-year-old partner Jiao Qing – who arrived at the zoo from China in 2017 – mated in April this year, and she was also artificially inseminated to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.
As reported by The Guardian, Zoo Berlin’s director Andreas Knieriem said:
Meng Meng and her two cubs coped well with the birth and are all in good health.
The twin cubs weigh 136g and 186g respectively, and their genders have not yet been determined.
The giant panda is China’s national animal. In what’s referred to as an act of ‘panda diplomacy’, the glorious mammals have been dispatched to around a dozen countries as a symbol of close relations.
In order for Zoo Berlin to host the pandas, they pay $15 million-per-year in a 15-year contract – with most of that money going towards conservation efforts and a breeding research programme in China.
After the newborn cubs have been weaned, they must be returned to China within four years.
China has previously given three pandas to Germany – the last one, Bao Bao, died in Berlin in 2012 at the age of 34, and was one of the oldest male pandas in the world.
While the giant panda is endangered, some statistics are quite encouraging. According to WWF, there are 1,864 pandas in the wild in China, up from around 1,000 in the 1970s.
There are also around 400 pandas living in zoos across the world, in co-operation with conservation projects in Beijing.
UNILAD wish Meng Meng and her cubs a lifetime of happiness and bamboo.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.