15-year old Lun Lun became a mother twice over yesterday as she became the first giant panda to deliver twins in the US since 1987.
Lun Lun, who was artificially inseminated with sperm from 15-year of Yang Yang (the father of her previous cubs as well) in March, gave birth to the twins at 6:21 am and 6:23 am after a short labor of only 90 minutes. Her first cub, Mei Lan took 36 hours of labor back in 2006.
Mei Lan now resides at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, although her two younger brothers, 4-year old Xi Lan and 2-year old Po continue to live at Zoo Atlanta with there parents, although in separate quarters.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Lun Lun’s and Yang Yang’s twins. This is a success we share with all of our fellow zoological organizations working to understand and protect this iconic species, and we share our joy with our local community and with our colleagues in China,” exclaimed the Zoo’s President and CEO Raymond B. King. “Twins are an entirely new scenario for Lun Lun, Zoo Atlanta and our animal care teams, who will no doubt be extremely busy over the next few months.”
While twin births are more common in the wild, panda moms there generally care for only one cub, allowing the other to perish. As a result, caretakers at the zoo plan to “switch” out the babies periodically so that both can receive care from their mother. When one is with Lun Lun, the other will be cared for in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center’s nursery unit, where veterinarian and animal management teams will continue to determine the best case scenario for the cubs based on their health and Lun Lun’s behavior.
For more information contact Zoo Atlanta at 800 Cherokee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30315 404 624-5600. The Zoo is open 363 days a year (exceptions are Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). You can also view Lun Lun and her cubs on zooatlanta.org/pandacam and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.