Rebecca Snyder, Ph.D, Curator of Mammals, is really proud of all the work our Animal Management and Veterinary Teams have been doing and of their commitment to the panda cubs and Zoo Atlanta. She also expressed her appreciation for Deng Tao, our colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, for his enormous dedication over the past two weeks:
“The twins continue to grow and thrive. That is due in large part to their exceptional mother, Lun Lun. But a lot of credit also goes to Deng Tao, from the Chengdu Research Base, and Zoo Atlanta’s three full-time veterinarians, Dr. Hayley Murphy, Dr. Sam Rivera and Dr. Kate Leach.
Deng Tao arrived in Atlanta the day the cubs were born. I saw him that afternoon and could tell he was exhausted from the long trip. I told him that I hoped nothing would happen that night so that he could get some rest. As soon as he arrived, Lun Lun went into labor! He didn’t sleep at all until the next day and it was just an hour or two on a mat in the panda building. He has only slept in the panda building since he arrived. He sleeps on an air mattress in a den adjacent to Lun Lun’s den. He showers at our vet clinic and eats in the panda building. He has only left the panda building a few times to eat breakfast or to pick up clean clothes. He has an adorable 6-month-old son he will not see for four months while he helps us with the twins.
The veterinarians are working 12-hour shifts so that one of them is always in the panda building. Dr. Sam works the night shift from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. and has not taken a day off since the twins were born. Dr. Hayley and Dr. Kate work the day shifts and try to keep up with health care for the other 1,400 animals that live at the Zoo. It’s a grueling schedule for all of them, but they are handling it with grace and good humor. We have a great team!”
We are extremely grateful for all of the team’s hard work, and they even still manage to find time to give us updates for Cub Confidential. Thank you!
Rebecca also took the time to answer a couple of our frequently asked panda cub questions:
After watching Lun Lun give birth, we can’t help but wonder…what happens to the placenta after birth?
“Lun Lun, like other giant panda mothers, spends a lot of time licking her anogenital area after she gives birth. She does this frequently for a few days after giving birth. The placenta and any other fluid discharge is consumed while she does this. The result is that her nest remains dry and clean.”
It’s easy to fit the cubs through the bars now because they are so small, but will the cubs grow too big to fit through the bars for swapping?
“The cubs will still fit through the bars when they are 4 to 5 months old. By that time, they can both be with Lun Lun and we won’t need to swap them anymore. We have mesh panels that fit over the bars. The keepers will attach those to the bars when the cubs start walking. That prevents them from climbing through the bars while the keepers are in an adjacent den cleaning or providing food.”
Thanks, Rebecca! The cubs are growing so fast and we’re all glued to PandaCam!