The panda cub born last month at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is female, zoo staff announced Thursday, Sept. 5. Not-to-mention, really, really cute ^_^
Through genetic testing, Smithsonian scientists confirmed the sex of the cub, born on Aug. 23 to panda mom Mei Xiang. A paternity test also revealed that the baby bear’s father is Tian Tian, the zoo’s male panda.
Both mom and the tiny female cub appear to be healthy, but keepers are maintaining a close watch over the pair, mostly through a camera that’s always turned on in the panda den. The cub will be named when she is 100 days old, in keeping with Chinese tradition.
Conservationists estimate that there are just 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Captive breeding is one way to help bolster the species’ population numbers and boost genetic diversity. Two other panda cubs were born this year in the United States. Zoo Atlanta’s female bear Lun Lun gave birth to twin panda cubs, both male, on July 15. Every panda birth is one step closer to saving the species.