Zoo Staff Concerned Panda Will Reject Baby Until Cameras Catch Moment Instincts Kick In
Sep 16, 2021 by apost team
Pandas are some of the most adorable creatures on Earth. Apart from their signature black and white coat that is recognized throughout the world, pandas are known for their silliness and bumbling antics, which have made them a popular search category on the internet. They are also known for being idle and lethargic compared to other members of the bear family, which is also what makes them so endearing to people. These fluffy, cuddly bears are a favorite in many ways.
However, there is more to pandas than meets the eye, making them very interesting creatures. According to the World Wildlife Federation, their black and white coat is a form of camouflage — the white part of their body for hiding in snow and the black part for hiding in the shade. They also have an extended wrist bone that helps them hold things and acts like a thumb. Their main diet consists of bamboo, and they can spend anywhere from 10 to 16 hours just eating. Another interesting fact is that to leave their scent in a higher place, they urinate while doing a handstand against a tree!
Along with this, panda cubs are also protected by their mother almost 100% of the time in the first month. Back in 2016, MinMin the panda at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve in Ya'an, China, had a long and arduous birth, which was due to her exceptionally large cub. The handlers were worried about MinMin's new baby and took the risk of taking the cub away for a check-up. When the cub was returned to MinMin, however, there seemed to be a problem.
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)
In another video, we can see that MinMin had struggled in her labor of over three days, which is unusual for a panda. The narrator says that this is not a good sign, as it suggests that the baby may not be born alive with labor that is this long. It is also dangerous for MinMin to go through labor for so long. "To survive a three-day labor is unheard of here, and yet she is trying," the narrator says, and it shows that MinMin defied odds by continuing with her birthing process. Finally, after the lengthy and painful labor, MinMin miraculously gives birth to her little cub, whom she scoops up immediately and holds close.
Pandas are born without any hair and virtually blind, which is why they need to be taken care of constantly. The video also states that pandas give birth to the smallest babies relative to the mother's size; cubs are 1/900th the size of their momma, which is roughly the size of a stick of butter. In the case of MinMin, her daughter is an exceptionally large cub, which is what made the birth so difficult for her, but in the end both the mother and baby survived.
To make sure everything was OK, zoo officials took the cub to monitor the baby. However, this was problematic because there might not have been enough time for MinMin to bond with her new baby. The video below also reveals that given that the baby will be covered with different smells, this may lead to MinMin rejecting her baby.
Before giving the cub back to MinMin, doctors and zoo staff examined the panda baby thoroughly and concluded that she was born healthy and happy. Everyone also worked carefully to remove any traces of their scent from the baby as much as possible, but not all scents may have been removed. When the cub was finally brought back into the enclosure, MinMin did not seem to care at all about her new daughter at first.
This is a heartwrenching sight, as the baby can be heard squealing and crying for her mother, but there is no reaction or comfort. "After all she has gone through, there is a real possibility that MinMin will now reject her baby," the narrator states.
The cub is moved closer but there is still no reaction from MinMin. This behavior had the zoo officials worried, but they did not give up. It may have been that MinMin just needed more time to adjust to the change and let her maternal instincts kick in. The zoo officials try something different: they clean out the enclosure and make MinMin more comfortable.
When the cub is reintroduced to MinMin, something immediately clicks. She recognizes that the helpless cub is actually her baby and picks her up and cradles her. This is a beautiful turn of events, and it is a relief for everyone at the zoo that the new momma has taken her baby. After such a grueling birthing process, we are glad to see that MinMin's maternal instincts helped her to reunite with her baby.
For a long time, pandas were on the list of endangered animals, but thanks to the combined efforts of reserves and policies that helped to increase their numbers, today pandas are on the "vulnerable" list, which means there is still a lot of work left to do to save the species, as per reports from the World Wildlife Federation.
BBC Earth reports that pandas half of all panda births result in twins, but it is rare for twins to survive in the wild because the mother almost always abandons a cub when she has multiples to give the strongest cub the best chance to survive. Pandas do not have sufficient milk or energy to care for two cubs.
However, thanks to the efforts of zoos and reserves, the chances of twins surviving have increased dramatically and helped to multiply the number of pandas across the world. At the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, a momma who gave birth to twins was tricked into thinking she has had only one baby to increase the chances of both cubs surviving.
However, this wasn't easy as BBC Earth reports that the babies had to be switched up to 10 times a day to maintain the illusion of a single baby. While one baby remains with the mother for a long time, the other is in an incubator and fed formula milk. This is a complex and laborious task but has truly helped the survival rate of twin cubs to potentially be 100% while in captivity.
This heartwarming moment spread across the internet like wildfire and has been shared around the world, and we can totally see why! Pandas are just so precious. Do you also love pandas? Let us know, and if you enjoyed this video, show it to your friends and family members to make them smile today!