First-Ever Panda Triplets to Survive Birth Born at Chinese Zoo

Kelly Lawyer
By Kelly Lawyer | August 13, 2014 | 10:12 AM EDT

A Chinese Zoo in the southern city of Guangzhou announced the first-ever panda triplets to survive post-delivery. The cubs, who were born on July 29, weighed between 8 and 12 ounces and came 4 hours apart.  The zoo waited to announce their arrival until officials were certain the cubs would survive.

The birth is a huge step forward in the zoo's breeding program because pandas have notoriously low birthrates.  Additionally, zoos and other panda breeding facilities have experienced great challenges getting pandas to mate naturally, partly, because a female panda has a single estrous cycle once a year, in the spring, for two to seven days, and she's only actually fertile for 24 to 36 hours.  Because of the narrowness of the window, many zoos have begun the use of artificial insemination-and met with great success, as in the case of triplet panda mom, Ju Xiao.

The triplets, like all pandas are born blind, hairless, and very tiny - about 1/900th of the mother's body or about the size of a stick of butter.  Because of this, zoo officials provide vital assistance caring for the cubs who often become sick and die.

Watch this video of Ju Xiao giving birth to, and taking care of, her precious, yet unnamed babies from their first moments with the assistance of zoo staff.