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Ultrasound: Giant Panda At Smithsonian National Zoo Is Pregnant

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.