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Smaller panda twin dies at National Zoo

© Leesburg Today - 08/26/2015

One of giant panda Mei Xiang's twins has died.

The National Zoo posted the news on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.

""The panda team continues to monitor Mei Xiang and the larger cub. They are encouraged that this cub appears to be strong and behaving normally,"" the zoo wrote.

Mei gave birth to the twins on Saturday, about five hours apart. Panda twins aren't unusual in the wild, but taking care of the tiny butterstick-sized cubs is grueling for panda mothers, and she will usually favor the stronger and let the other die.

Panda keepers had attempted to switch Mei's twins in the den so each would have her time and care, but the zoo said she had not been ""a willing participant"" and refused to give up the larger cub.

The smaller was being hand-reared by panda keepers. The zoo did not say how the cub died.

""The entire zoo community appreciates the outpouring of well-wishes from around the world,"" the zoo said.

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