The district is elated over the birth of its newest panda resident, a cub born yesterday to the National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang. This new cub reminds us of Mei Xiang's loss back in September, when she gave birth to a four ounce cub that died only six days later, due to underdeveloped lungs that led to lung problems. But this baby is looking healthy, so let's hope everything goes well.
I'm not going to pretend that I've ever known much about the animal kingdom, except learning far too late in life from my friend Robyn that you should avoid (not seek, as I thought) eye contact with animals that seem hostile. But the more I read about Mei Xiang's planned pregnancy, birth, and post-birth treatment, the horror grows.
Some reasons I'm glad I'm not a panda held in captivity, by a bunch of humans who are obsessed with my procreating to birth a child who will also be held in captivity:
- After "natural breeding attempts" with the resident male Panda Tian Tian failed, zoo officials turned to artificial insemination. I believe the appropriate phrase is "no means no."
- Zoo officials inseminated her not only with fresh sperm from Tian Tian, but also with his frozen sperm collected in 2003, AND some extra frozen sperm they just had lying around from San Diego's male giant panda, Gao Gao. How's she going to know who to hit up for child support? (The zoo is going to conduct a DNA test to determine paternity. No joke.)
- When Mei Xiang's water broke, the zoo spread the word on twitter and Facebook, hoping people would tune in to the live panda cam to see the birth streamed on the internet. If someone had tried to stream my birth on the internet after my water broke, I'd have found new and particularly painful ways to kill with a camera.
- In order to check on the cub's health, which panda experts in China and other zoos do regularly, zoo officials will distract Mei Xiang with food and take the cub away to examine. I'm all for checking on the cub's health and think bonding must come second in any post birth to fundamental vitals, but distracting her with food? My family tried to distract me with a burger and fries while Desmond was getting checked out and all I could think was "whatever goes in has to come out." No thanks.
I will not endorse the video of this very private moment going viral, but I will give you an adorable photo of a panda cub getting into some trouble (a slightly matured cub, because I find the brand new ones kind of creepy. I'm an awful person, I know.):
Welcome to this crazy world, panda cub!