No mother enjoys taking her brand new baby to the doctor to have the child poked and prodded at, not even panda moms as evidenced by what took place Tuesday at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Giant Panda Mei Xang may not be new to motherhood, but that hasn't made her any less relaxed about other people handling her offspring. Tuesday morning members of the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. attempted to exam Xang's newborn cub but were thwarted by the cub's mother.
"Mei Xiang was more alert and more aware of the keepers' presence today," and made it difficult for keepers to gain access to her cub, zoo officials said in a statement on Tuesday following a failed neonatal exam.
"When they attempted to distract her and retrieve the cub, she persistently moved out of reach. It's clear she was holding tight to the cub and did not want to give it up," the statement read according to The Washington Post.
Xiang gave birth to a tiny cub last year, but the baby panda died only days later. On Friday, she gave birth to two cubs, one of which was stillborn. The surviving cub was examined first on Sunday, but keepers decided not to complete the second exam Tuesday to avoid upsetting the mama bear.
"All signs are that we have a very healthy, active, vibrant cub," the zoo said Sunday, adding that the cub appeared to be eating and defecating properly.
Panda cams have been set up at the zoo since March when Mei Xiang was first inseminated. Keepers say that they will continue to monitor the health of the cub via camera. A close eye has been kept on Xiang since March, says the Huffington Post, because zoo officials were unsure if Xiang was truly pregnant or experiencing a pseudo pregnancy following the death of her cub last year.