Cheers for Berlin zoo! Panda gives birth to 2 cubs

BERLIN, Aug. 15, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Aug. 14, 2019 shows panda Meng Meng at the Zoo Berlin in Berlin, capital of Germany. Zoo Berlin is getting ready to welcome one or two newborn panda cubs as experts say it\'s very likely that the 6-year-old panda Meng Meng is pregnant. (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi/IANS)
Photo taken on Aug. 14, 2019 shows panda Meng Meng at the Zoo Berlin in Berlin, capital of Germany. Photo: IANS

Berlin: The Berlin zoo announced on Monday that its panda Meng Meng had given birth to two cubs, the first to be born in captivity in Germany.

Andreas Knieriem, the director of Zoo Tierpark Berlin, said both mother and the cubs were faring well, reports Efe news.

"Although they are the first cubs for our young female panda, she's looking after them in an exemplary fashion. In the beginning, the cubs have to drink for more or less two or three hours a day and warmth and being close to their mother is important so the little ones don't get cold," he said in a statement.

Meng Meng, six, gave birth to her cubs on Sunday evening after 147 days in gestation.

The process was filmed by staff at the zoo.

"There are currently 1,864 wild adult pandas in their natural habitat, which means each and every one of these cubs significantly helps towards the survival of the species," Knieriem said.

The Berlin zoo is working closely with the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to support Meng Meng in her new life as a mother, given that twins were not common among pandas.

Experts plan to alternate the cubs with the mother for a period of two or three hours, during which time the other will be looked after by the Chinese team of specialists.

An early analysis of the cubs reported weights of 186 grams and 136 grams, although their sex is yet to be determined.

The young family will be kept out of the public eye for the time being, apart from the father, Jiao Qing, nine, who will still be one of the zoo's attractions.

Meng Meng with Jiao Qing arrived at the zoo in the German capital in 2017 as part of the Chinese government's so-called panda diplomacy during an official visit from President Xi Jinping.

Beijing lends the animals to zoos around the world to boost conservation efforts.

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