The Toronto zoo today welcomes two new giant pandas to the world, the first pandas ever born in Canada. Panda Er Shun, on loan from China, gave birth after artificial insemination as part of a worldwide Panda conservation effort.
Video posted by the Toronto zoo offers a rare peak into the most amazing of nature's miracles, although we will warn that it may not be for the extremely squeamish; pandas aren't quite so cute until later!
Human moms will easily recognize that the birth process itself is not one of the many barriers to proliferation of giant pandas. It looks quite a bit easier for panda mama to deliver a cub the size of a stick of butter than for our species' own super-brains to push their way into the light of this world.
Er Shun begins cleaning and cuddling her first baby right away. Her second cub arrives 13 minutes later. The birth was attended by two experts from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. Together with Toronto zoo employees, they removed the cubs in accordance with incubator protocol, hoping to give the cubs a better chance at survival in the first delicate days.
To ensure bonding with Er Shun, the cubs will be swapped out, sharing time between mama and their incubator. This will also boost the survival chances for both cubs, hopefully overcoming the panda's instinct to nurture only one cub after a twin birth.
The public cannot see the cubs until they are at least five months old but can follow their growth via Toronto zoo's twitter feed.
More darling pandas can be found at Toronto Zoo's YouTube account.