Animals

Zoo Workers Await If Mama Panda’s Instincts Will Kick In

August 2nd, 2019

When Minmin the panda gave birth to her first cub, she was in labor for three days.

The caretakers at the wildlife reserve where she is held captive have placed her in a holding pen so she can be closely monitored. It’s also difficult to predict when a panda will give birth, which made their decision easier to make.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

And it’s a good thing they made that call because, on the third day of her labor after a five-month pregnancy, Minmin was having difficulty.

And when the birth takes a longer time than usual, they must be watched very closely.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

But Minmin is a fighter and she successfully delivered her baby.

However, to make sure that the baby is healthy, the doctors and the staff had to make a full physical. Baby pandas are extremely fragile and can easily get sick and die. In fact, 10% of baby pandas in breeding centers don’t make it. It’s still a vast improvement from the 1960s, where 70% don’t survive.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

But, of course, the doctors want to make that 100%, if they can.

At the time of her pregnancy, Minmin was already seven years old. Pandas usually reach maturity when they reach 5.5 to 6.5 years. Females are usually ready during the spring, between March and May, for two to four days. Once they’re pregnant, the female pandas carry the babies for 5 months on average.

They finally confirmed that Minmin’s panda was healthy and the baby panda’s ready to unite with Minmin once again.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

But will Minmin accept her baby?

Since the doctors took the baby away from Minmin before she’s had a chance to bond with her baby, Minmin may not recognize her baby. The baby panda will have been covered already with different scents, scents Minmin may not recognize.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

And if Minmin doesn’t recognize her own baby, there’s a big chance she may not accept it.

If so, the baby will most likely not survive. Baby pandas are highly dependent on their mothers for the first months of their lives. Their muscles are still weak and they can’t stand on their own.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

Their need for their mothers is especially great in the first few months.

While Minmin remains in her pen, the keepers bring in her baby. They place her on the floor far enough from Minmin to give her space but close enough so she can reach for the baby.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

The baby kept crying out but Minmin ignored her.

They bring the baby closer to Minmin, hoping she’ll come closer or be curious this time. Minmin walks but only to walk to the other side of the pen. She walks all over the pen but not anywhere close to her baby.

The keepers take the baby again and try another approach. They try to make Minmin more comfortable and cleaned her pen.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

When the pen is clear, they bring in her baby again.

Will it work this time? Watch the video below to see her mothering in action.

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Source: BBC Earth

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