U.S.-born giant panda cub turns one month old

This is a photo of the giant panda cub posted by the Smithsonian's National Zoo on its official website on Sept. 21, 2020. (Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo)
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A giant panda cub born in the Smithsonian’s National Zoo here turned one month old on Monday.

The zoo said Mei Xiang has been an “amazing mother” over the past four weeks taking care of the cub.

Veterinarians conducted an exam for the cub two days ago, which showed it weighed 952 grams and measured 34 centimeters from nose to tail tip and is “healthy and strong.”

This undated file photo provided by Smithsonian’s National Zoo shows giant panda Mei Xiang at the zoo in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Smithsonian’s National Zoo via Xinhua)

The cub’s eyes are still closed, but the left eye is not closed as tightly and may open soon. Generally, newborn giant pandas open their eyes between 6 and 8 weeks of age.

Veterinarians were also able to take a quick swab of the cub’s cheek for DNA analysis whose results will come out in the next few weeks. Outwardly, male and female cubs appear similar at birth, so a genetic test is the most accurate way to determine the sex.

Mei Xiang, 22, gave birth to the cub on Aug. 21, the seventh since she and male giant panda Tian Tian began living in the zoo in 2000. Three of her cubs have survived to adulthood.

The female giant panda was artificially inseminated earlier this year with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian. Veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on ultrasound in August.

Part of the renowned Smithsonian Institution, the national zoo, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., has a decades-long partnership with Chinese scientists and curators on conserving giant pandas.

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