Born blind, pink, and entirely helpless, here’s how giant pandas grow up
Baby pandas start out life nearly unrecognizable and reliant on their mothers for warmth, food, and safety. But that doesn’t last for long.
Six weeks after giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth in Washington, D.C., Smithsonian’s National Zoo revealed the gender of the newborn cub—not with a colored cake or fireworks, but with an adorable photo and the results of a genetic test. It’s a boy!
The genetic testing was conducted at the still-unnamed newborn’s first veterinary exam in September, a full month after its birth on August 21. Genetic tests are the only way to discern the sex of a panda cub in the earliest weeks of its life. Not only are mothers incredibly protective of the cubs at this age, but pandas are also born without genitalia.
That’s not all they’re missing at birth. Newborn giant pandas are almost completely