We are filled with pride! Just days ago, in a naturalistic den, high in the mountains of Sichuan Province, surrounded by bamboo and forest ferns, Su Lin gave birth to her first cubs. And from what we’ve seen, her maternal skills kicked right in as she gently picked up the vigorous and squawking cub with her mouth and sheltered it into her great body for warmth soon after the cub was born.
This news from China is fantastic and the culmination of months of waiting since we heard of Su Lin’s successful breeding back in March. Not only has Su Lin given birth in her semi-wild enclosure, but she is also the first new panda mother of the year. We also learned that Su Lin gave birth to a second, stillborn cub. While this is a sad note in this otherwise joyous event, we know that this is not an uncommon occurrence with giant pandas. From what we’ve seen, the veterinary staff has already given the surviving cub its first quick examine and have returned the cub safely to Su Lin.
As we hear more, we’ll share what we’ve learned. So stay tuned! And in the meantime, mark your panda-calendars: July 7, 2011, was an auspicious day!
Megan Owen is a conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Su Lin: No Worries!