Heather Roberts, Keeper III, stays in the panda nursery overnight along with Deng Tao, our colleague from the Chengdu Research Base. Heather makes sure she captures everything you don’t get to see on PandaCam:
“Once the cubs started looking very similar and had become essentially the same weight, we came up with a system of keeping track of who was who. We placed the cub that was to be returned to Lun Lun facing towards her and the dens, and the cub we just took from Lun Lun was on the other side of the incubator facing the opposite direction. We continue to use this system now that the cubs are in the cub box. Generally, the cubs stay on their own side, but since they have gotten a little more mobile, one of them (usually Cub B) will work his way over to the other side for a little social time. Last night, during a swap while Cub A was waiting on his side of the box for Lun Lun to finish eating, Cub B scooted and wiggled until he was lying on top of his brother. It was so cute I had to capture a photo!“
Thanks for the pictures, Heather! Staying up all night has never been that cute!
Curator of Mammals Rebecca Snyder, PhD, helps us give Cub Confidential subscribers a greater understanding of giant pandas. Today, she answers more of your common cub questions.
Do panda cubs receive any natural immunities from their mother’s milk as human babies can?
Giant panda cubs receive antibodies from their mother’s colostrum. We are not sure how long giant panda neonates can absorb antibodies from colostrum, but if it’s similar to other species, the first 24 hours after birth is critical for this. The twins both had opportunities to nurse in the first 24 hours after their birth, and we are happy about that. However, because of the swapping technique, they only had about half as much time to nurse in that 24-hour period as a single-born cub would have. The twins were fed some formula in the first 24 hours, because we were not able to swap them as frequently as we thought necessary. To help them receive additional antibodies, serum was added to the formula. This serum came from blood that we collected voluntarily from Lun Lun when she was pregnant. The concentration of antibodies in serum is lower than in colostrum, but it is still beneficial. So far, the twins have been healthy, which is a good sign that they received sufficient immunity from Lun Lun. However, they are still very young, and their immune systems are still developing. This is why it is so important that we protect them from disease by having a strict bio-security protocol in place for the nursery and by limiting the number of people allowed in the nursery. Pictured: Lun Lun nursing Cub A
What does the cubs' fur feel like?
The cubs appear to have soft, fluffy fur, but it's actually very coarse and wooly just like adult giant panda fur. The texture and density makes it great for insulation. Wild giant pandas live in cool, wet forests with dense undergrowth. They need to have fur that keeps them warm and dry in that environment. Their fur provides such great insulation, that they can comfortably sleep for hours on snow. The twins' coats are very full now. Their fur will continue to grow longer and denser over the next couple of months.
Thanks, Rebecca. Mama’s milk has to be a reason why the cubs’ fur looks so full and fluffy!
Do you want to meet the panda cubs? Here’s your chance! The PANDA Extravaganza Sweepstakes opened last week for your chance to win an all-expenses-paid panda experience of a lifetime. The sweepstakes will randomly select a single winner for an exclusive behind-the-scenes encounter for two in the giant panda nursery, VIP participation for two in the cubs’ 100 Day Naming Celebration, round-trip airfare, two nights at W Atlanta - Downtown, dinner for two at BLT Steak Atlanta, and a spa package for two at Bliss Atlanta! What are you waiting for? Enter now on the Zoo Atlanta website
or on Zoo Atlanta’s Facebook
Entrants must provide a name, email address, mailing address and telephone number to enroll. No purchase is necessary. Participants must be 18 years old or older and citizens or permanent legal residents of the 50 U.S. states. The winner will be contacted and announced by Zoo Atlanta.