Award-Winning Zoo Welcomes Twin Panda Cubs
Zoo Atlanta, which received the International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for its efforts in preserving giant pandas, welcomed twin cubs this week.
It’s “pandemonium” at Zoo Atlanta this week. On Monday, one of the zoo’s giant pandas, Lun Lun, gave birth to twin cubs, the first set of twin pandas born in the United States since 1987, according to a statement by the zoo [PDF].
The newborns are also the fourth and fifth pandas born at Zoo Atlanta, which received the International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums last year for its work in restoring the species.
“Zoo Atlanta is a proven leader in international wildlife conservation,” AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy said in a statement last year [PDF]. “While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to Zoo Atlanta for making a positive impact on the future of this species.”
The award specifically recognizes the work of AZA institutions, related facilities, and conservation partner members toward habitat preservation, species restoration, and biodiversity support.
There are roughly 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild and more than 300 living in zoos around the world according to Washington, DC’s Smithsonian National Zoological Park, which was also recognized by AZA last year for its work in preserving the endangered species.
Because of their small size, the days-old cubs, now about the size of butter sticks, have an increased mortality rate for the first few months, according to Zoo Atlanta. Giant panda mothers will also often neglect caring for one cub in favor of its twin in the wild, so the zoo’s animal management and veterinary teams are rotating the twins to make sure each gets an equal amount of maternal care.
Visitors to Zoo Atlanta will have to wait till late fall to see the new pandas in person, but those who can’t wait can check them out via the zoo’s Panda Cam.
(photo via Zoo Atlanta's Google+ Page)