Congrats to Lun Lun, the happy mother!Pandas, which are one of the better known endangered species out there, just aren't very good at breeding, making their survival more problematic than if, say, they had cubs by the bucketload every year. So when a single panda cub is born, it's a big deal, a special occasion. But when twins come into this world, it's time to put on the party hats and celebrate!
Lun Lun, a female panda hosted by Zoo Atlanta became the happy mother of twins, something that hasn't happened in the United States since 1987! And it's a good thing that this happened in a zoo and not in the wild, because panda mothers typically only care for one of the cubs when this happens; but the zoo can trick the mother by rotating the cubs during the early days and caring for the other one in a nursery.
Here's the note left on the zoo's 'Curator of Mammals' (cool job title, bro) on its website:
The panda team is tired and a little stressed, but happy! So far, both cubs are doing well. We are fortunate that both were born a healthy weight and strong. Sometimes one twin is very small. As you all know, Lun Lun is a fantastic mom, and she's even more impressive this time. The cubs are being alternated with her, which is a technique first developed by our colleagues in Chengdu and used successfully for many cubs. Lun Lun is such a good mom, though, that she is reluctant to give up whichever cub she has. So, we have not been able to swap the cubs as frequently as we would like. Because of that, both have been supplemented with some formula. Both are doing well with this. Their condition and Lun Lun's behavior will continue to guide our actions. The next few days are especially critical. So, please continue to keep us in your thoughts. We can use the good vibes! --Rebecca Snyder, PhD.
They also provide a helpful panda developmental timeline that shows the different growth milestones that the panda cubs will go through:
According to Livescience, the babies are also "the first pandas to be born in the country this year. They are fourth and fifth babies for 15-year-old mom Lun Lun, according to the zoo. The female last gave birth in 2010, to a male cub named Po."
They even have an ultrasound of the pregnancy!
Trivia: Marsupials aside, giant panda cubs are the smallest relative to their mothers at birth among mammals.