Austrian Zoo Finds Dead Panda Sibling

The Associated Press
Friday, August 24, 2007; 1:43 PM

VIENNA, Austria -- The giant panda cub born in an Austrian zoo was actually a twin, but its sibling died, the zoo said Friday.

Staff at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo detected the tiny carcass late Thursday while monitoring the mother, Yang Yang, and her newborn through a surveillance camera, zoologist Regina Pfistermueller said.

"It took awhile until we saw it," Pfistermueller said, adding that zookeepers waited until Friday to retrieve the dead cub to avoid stressing Yang Yang.

It was unclear if the cub was stillborn or if it died shortly after birth, Pfistermueller said, adding that at 3.1 ounces it had virtually no chance of survival. The healthy cub, yet unnamed, weighed an estimated 3.5 ounces.

Zookeepers were caught off-guard Thursday when they heard unusual noises coming from an enclosed area to which Yang Yang had retreated. Upon closer inspection, they discovered that she had given birth to a cub _ the first born in Europe in 25 years. Zookeepers had not been certain Yang Yang was pregnant because an Aug. 6 ultrasound had not shown any signs of it.

Thursday's surprise delivery occurred 127 days after Yang Yang mated with the male panda Long Hui. Both are in Austria on loan from China. The cubs were conceived naturally.

The last time pandas were born in Europe was in Madrid in 1982, the zoo said on its Web site. A panda gave birth to twin cubs through artificial insemination.

Approximately 1,600 giant pandas live in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

© 2007 The Associated Press