A giant panda gave birth to a wriggling cub at Washington’s National Zoo on Friday, the zoo said in a statement.
The cub was born to 22-year-old mother Mei Xiang in the early evening, local time, the zoo said in an Instagram post that announced the “joyous news”.
It will take some time before the sex of the cub can be determined.
“Mei Xiang picked the cub up immediately and began cradling and caring for it,” the zoo said in a statement. “The panda team heard the cub vocalise.”
Panda lovers around the world were able to see the birth on the zoo’s Panda Cam. Zookeepers also were using the camera to keep an eye on mother and baby.
The cub is Mei Xiang’s fourth. Her first three offspring, Tai Shan, Bao Bao and Bei Bei, were transported to China at the age of four under an agreement with the Chinese government.
“Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and with the birth of this precious cub we are thrilled to offer the world a much-needed moment of pure joy,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
“Because Mei Xiang is of advanced maternal age, we knew the chances of her having a cub were slim. However, we wanted to give her one more opportunity to contribute to her species’ survival.”
At 22, Mei Xiang is the oldest giant panda to successfully give birth in the United States. The oldest in the world gave birth in China at the age of 23.