Baby pandas at Pairi Daiza: the first 100 days are crucial
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    Baby pandas at Pairi Daiza: the first 100 days are crucial

    New mother Hao Hao licks clean one of the new arrivals © Pairi Daiza

    The twin baby pandas born at animal park Pairi Daiza this week will be under constant surveillance for at least the first 100 days of their lives, according to the park. The birth of the twins to female Hao Hao went without a hitch, but the early days of panda twins are crucial to their survival, even in the ideal conditions of captivity, the park said.

    For the offspring of a giant panda, the babies are minute – each one is about 1/900 of mother’s weight, the male weighing 160g and the female, born second, slightly smaller at 150g. Tiny and very vulnerable: “In the birth of twins to giant pandas, a rare event both in nature and among humans, it happens frequently that one of the two babies dies,” the park said.

    For that reason, the twins – one male and one female — will be kept under permanent surveillance. “The priority for the experts and keepers is now to ensure, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, that Hao Hao goes on the way she started and correctly breast-feeds the two little ones. To make sure she gets enough rest and to keep an eye on the babies, the park intends to place the babies by turns in an incubator and to bottle-feed it.”

    According to news reports, it will be at least one month before visitors to the park can see the babies live – although it would be reasonable to expect the wait to be even longer, given that the danger period for panda twins is more like three months after birth.

    Hao Hao gave birth after being artificially inseminated under general anaesthetic in April this year, under the supervision of the veterinary department of the university of Ghent and an expert from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, using sperm extracted, also under general anaesthetic, from her male counterpart Xing Hui, who had shown himself to be too aggressive towards Hao Hao when attempts were made to have the pair mate naturally.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times