Giant pandas are adorable creatures that—thanks to conservation work—are no longer endangered, but they’re still a vulnerable species that need extra care and support to rebuild its population. What’s more, giant pandas have a hard time breeding both in the wild and in captivity. That’s why when a giant panda gives birth to a cub, it’s really big news! What makes the birth of a panda cub doubly exciting? When twins are born!
In the past few months, two pairs of giant pandas gave birth to twins. On June 23rd, Ueno Zoo in Japan, announced that its giant panda Shin Shin gave birth to twin cubs, and less than two months later on August 2nd, Beauval Zoo in France, announced that its fifteen-year-old female panda Huan Huan gave birth to twin female cubs. The Ueno Zoo hadn’t witnessed the birth of a panda cub in four years and the last time a giant panda gave birth to a cub at Beauval Zoo was in 2017.
Both zoos are watching these cubs carefully to see how the moms are responding to them, since pandas rarely care for two cubs at once. At Ueno Zoo, staff are taking care of the cub that Shin Shin is not caring for and then swapping them! At the Beauval Zoo, staff are monitoring how Huan Huan is caring for her girls. The first few weeks of a panda’s birth are the most vulnerable so panda lovers are crossing their fingers (and toes!) that these babies survive. We’re rooting for them!
- As with Chinese tradition, neither sets of cubs will be named until their 100th birthday.
- At around four years old, these cubs will be given to China.
- Pandas are born furless, blind, and their limbs are so weak, they can’t stand on their own.
- In the wild, half of panda births are to twins.
- In captivity, a giant panda can live for thirty years, but in the wild, a giant panda’s life expectancy is only fifteen to twenty years.