Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - Page 4 News List

‘Miracle’ panda triplets open their eyes

AFP, HONG KONG

Two giant pandas from a litter of three lie on a blanket at Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, China, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

A set of panda triplets, known as the world’s only surviving trio, have opened their eyes for the first time more than a month after their birth in a Guangdong Province zoo.

The trio’s births at the end of July were hailed as a “miracle,” given the animal’s famously low reproductive rate.

A video from the zoo showed the three cubs now covered with white and black fur squealing and moving about with their eyes open.

“The panda triplets have all opened their eyes and are in good, healthy condition,” Guangzhou’s Chimelong Safari Park said in a statement on Thursday last week.

The second panda to be born was the first to open its eyes, followed by the lastborn and then the firstborn.

The cubs weighed from 2.6kg to 2.8kg, the statement said.

“Each one is starting to show its own individuality. For example, the third one is the most lively,” it said, adding that the cubs are now living in wooden boxes.

The cubs’ next stage in development will be to start walking, the statement continued.

NAMING CONTEST

The zoo said that a naming competition is already under way and is to end in mid-October.

The gender of the cubs cannot be determined until they grow older.

The mother, named Juxiao (菊笑), meaning “chrysanthemum smile,” delivered the triplets at Guangzhou’s Chimelong Safari Park in the early hours of July 29.

A video showed Juxiao sitting in the corner of a room as she delivered her cubs for four grueling hours, licking them after they were born.

By the delivery of the third cub, she was lying on her side in exhaustion.

RARE CASE

The first known case of triplets from a giant panda was recorded in 1999, when a 15-year-old mother gave birth following artificial insemination in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

However, the youngest of the trio died after just three days because of a bladder disorder.

Pandas, whose natural habitat is in mountainous southwestern China, have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss. China has about 1,600 pandas living in the wild.

Their normal breeding season is mid-April to May.

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