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Ultrasound: Giant Panda At Smithsonian National Zoo Is Pregnant


I'm David Greene with some actual probably maybe good news during this pandemic - giant panda Mei Xiang seems to be expecting either one baby or maybe even twins.

DON NEIFFER: Mei Xiang did us a solid and allowed me to perform an ultrasound, and I acquired several videos that showed a really well-developed fetus. Still not ruling out the possibility of two, but there's definitely one very large, viable fetus growing inside of her.


At least one. That's Dr. Don Neiffer at the National Zoo here in Washington, D.C. The zoo already has two giant pandas.

NEIFFER: We're now looking at maybe the end of this coming week, but it's close.

KING: Pandas undeniably make many of us happy, and so the panda cam at the National Zoo is letting people watch all of this 24/7.

NEIFFER: And so yeah, at any time, somebody could be on the panda cam, and they could see Mei Xiang's babies being born. That happened in 2015.

GREENE: But if a baby panda is indeed born, don't tune in expecting to see a furry ball of cuteness.

NEIFFER: I've referred to them as these screaming pink sticks of butter when they come out. And their job, I think, is to scream, be noticed and be able to find their way to a mammary gland.

KING: And things could still go wrong. Dr. Neiffer explained that to us.

NEIFFER: You know, in 2015, within I think a 48-hour period, maybe 72, I went from being able to tell the world that we had two cubs born to having to tell the world that one of them didn't make it.

GREENE: He has been preparing his colleagues for how to manage their emotions since the stakes around a panda pregnancy are really high.

NEIFFER: And I tell the vets who work with me, and especially the younger vets coming up, is like you - you know, don't let them see you scream or cry. Do it on the inside.

KING: All right. We will let the vets worry about the worst-case scenario. We'll just watch the panda cam and hope. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.