Lonely Planet Writer

Celebrations as first female giant panda born at Madrid Zoo

A rare giant panda cub has been born at the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid The cub arrived just before dawn on Wednesday morning, weighing 180 grams, and is the first female of the endangered species to be born at the zoo.

New-born baby panda at Madrid Zoo.
New-born baby panda at Madrid Zoo. Image by PA

In recent weeks, zookeepers had suspected that mother Hua Zui Ba’s inactivity, loss of appetite and changes in hormone levels meant she was pregnant, and sure enough yesterday morning she licked her paws – a sign she was about to give birth – then settled down for the labour, which was captured on film.

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The pink panda cub was born four minutes later and after a quick check and cleanup, Hua Zui Ba placed her new baby in her lap. In heartwarming scenes, the veterinary team are seen checking the cub, who rolls around and attempts to walk for the first time. The zoo quickly gave her a clean bill of health, saying in a statement that “She is well formed, very active and has excellent vital signs.”

She is the fourth giant panda cub to be born in Madrid in recent years, following twins Po and De De in 2010, and Xing Bao in 2013 – but female births are rarer, so this arrival marks a particularly joyous occasion.

The cub’s birth extends the giant panda population in Europe to 15 – there are others at ZooParc de Beauval  in France, Edinburgh Zoo, Pairi Daiza  in Belgium and the Schönbrunn Tiergarten in Vienna.

If you want to meet the new cub, though, you’ll have to be patient – she’ll be closely guarded for her first few months before she is allowed out to meet her adoring public.