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Giant panda Mei Xiang gives birth to twins at National Zoo

It’s twins! The National Zoo’s giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to twin cubs on Saturday in Washington D.C., the zoo confirmed.

The first giant panda cub born was born at 5:35 p.m. and the second at 10:07 p.m., the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute said in a press release.

Both cubs, weighing 86 and 132 grams, were “vocalizing well” Sunday morning, the zoo said. The sex of either won’t be determined until later.

Because of the cubs’s vulnerable state and size, zookeepers and nutritionists will alternate between giving one of the cubs to Mei Xiang to nurse and bottle feed the other with formula made up of water, human baby formula and puppy formula and keep it warm in an incubator.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in April using semen from a two giant pandas, Tian Tian, who lives at the zoo, and another in China. A DNA analysis will determine who the father is.

Giant pandas give birth to twins roughly half of the time, the zoo said, and this is the third time a giant panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.

Mei Xiang has two surviving cubs, Tai Shan, born a decade ago and living in China, and Bao Bao who lives at the zoo.

Bao Bao celebrated her second birthday at the National Zoo on Sunday, feasting on a frozen fruitsicle cake made of honey, apple juice, apple sauce, bamboo, carrots and beet juice. The zoo will send her to China in two years, officials said. 

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