They’re calling it a “miracle.” A Chinese zoo says that giant panda triplets were born in July and are the first litter known to survive for more than 15 days.
The trio were born to giant panda Juxiao and her mate, Linlin, in Guangzhou’s Chimelong Safari Park. According to reports, the pandas were naturally conceived, which could be the other miracle of this story.
Giant pandas are notorious for being some of nature’s most finicky breeders. Females ovulate once a year in the spring and can only conceive in a two- to three-day window during ovulation.
“It was a miracle for us, and [the births] exceeded our expectations,” the safari park’s general manager Dong Guixin, told AFP. “It’s been 15 days. They have lived longer than any other triplets so far.”
Juxiao and Linlin’s courtship blossomed with some help, of course. Zookeepers “made them neighbors” so that they could smell each other, a prerequisite for taking the next step toward conception. Juxiao also had to do special panda exercises to get her strength up enough to carry cubs. No word on what exactly those exercises were.
The tiny creatures were smaller than the size of a human hand when they were born — 1/900th the size of their mother. Rosy pink, covered in peach fuzz and blind, they have a long road ahead: They can only be considered “surviving” if they’ve lived to see six months, a nature reserve official told AFP.
According to Guixin, panda cubs have extremely high mortality rates. But after being watched round-the-clock in an incubator by zooeepers, they have been returned to the care of their mother.
The World Wildlife Federation estimates that there are 1,600 wild pandas remaining. Their habitat, the wild mountainous ranges in south central China, have been threatened by human encroachment and habitat destruction.
Whether these babies are the “new wonder of the world” as the Chimelong Safari Park claims, we don’t know. But they’re cute. Check it out: