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UPDATED: Surprise! It’s twin panda cubs at the National Zoo

© Leesburg Today - 08/22/2015

Mei Xiang, the National Zoo's female giant panda, gave birth to a second cub Saturday night -- less than five hours after a first appeared.

The D.C. region was a bit surprised and thrilled when news broke that Mei had one squealing cub at 5:34 p.m. The zoo's chief veterinarian said shortly after the birth that the cub showed ""all signs of being happy and healthy.""

Then around 11 p.m. came an even bigger surprise -- Mei Xiang gave birth to a second cub at 10:07 p.m.

""The panda team retrieved one of the cubs per 'twin hand rearing' protocol and has placed it in an incubator. It appears to be in good health,"" zoo officials said in a statement.

  • Click here to watch video of the 5:34 p.m. birth

The newborns are the first panda cubs born in the United States this year.

Earlier in the week, the zoo said that they had detected a panda fetus during an ultrasound on Mei Xiang -- mom to 10-year-old Tai Shan and Bao Bao, who turns 2 on Sunday.

The zoo estimated Mei would give birth between Aug. 28 and mid-September.

Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated in April with sperm from two pandas, Tian Tian -- the father of her two other cubs -- and another male in China. Zoo officials said paternity tests will be done in the near future.

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