Panda Cub Gets First Exam - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Panda Cub Gets First Exam

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Exhilaration at the National Zoo after veterinarians get their first chance to exam the cub born Friday evening.

" I have nothing but joy that we have one cub that is healthy and doing well," Dr. Brandie Smith says.

It was a delicate operation to pry the tiny little cub away from Mei Xiang.

Zookeeper Juan Rodriguez distracted her with honey water, while keeper Marty Dearie made his move.

"When I finally reached in for the third time, I felt the top of the cub's head and pulled it out. It was squealing and moving around quite a bit ,and  very ,very healthy," Dearie says.

The litte cub,  all covered in fur,  weighs just 4.8 ounces.

 Its eyes aren't open yet, and vets won't be able to determine its sex for about three weeks.

Keepers say Mei Xiang was very agitated while her cub was being examined. The task of returning the baby cub was left to keeper Lori Thompson who has worked with Mei Xiang since she arrived at the National Zoo in 2000.

  " I kind of waited for my moment, when she stood up and moved back," Thompson. "I very gently placed the cub on the floor and she picked it up right away and cradle it, so everything is happy now."

Mei Xiang and the cub won't be on public display for weeks, much to the disappointment of visitors who keep stopping by the panda house for a peek.

 "I'm very excited we get another chance," April Short says.  "We were here on the day the cub was born last year and it died, so that was sad."

Melissa McIntosh says the panda's birth is a very big deal.

  "That's actually very interesting, and important," McIntosh says.  " We can learn such more more about them with each birth.

 I like it. "

The zoo's web cam is up around the clock, except during exams, offering the best pictures of Mei Xiang and her cub.

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