Mei Xiang was born on July 22, 1998, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province; she weighs about 230 pounds. Her mother was Xue Xue and her father was Lin Nan; both parents were wild pandas. She and Tian Tian, a male, are the National Zoo's second pair of giant pandas.
Giant pandas are thought to be solitary creatures, except for mating season and mothers with young cubs. In keeping with the habits of wild pandas, Mei is generally alone, although Mei and Tian are occasionally together outside of breeding season. Tian and Mei are trained to participate in a full medical examination, including a blood draw, without anesthesia.
Mei Xiang has given birth to six cubs, all at the National Zoo and fathered by Tian Tian. Tai Shan, a male, was born July 9, 2005. He was the first panda cub to be born at the zoo and live for more than a few days. He lived at the zoo until February 4, 2010, when he moved to China, as per an agreement between the United States and China.
Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice in April 2012 with Tian Tian's sperm. Zoo officials estimated her chances of pregnancy at 10% after she had previously had five false pregnancies, in which she acted pregnant but was not. Another cub was born on the night of September 16, 2012, and was a surprise to zookeepers. As of September 17, zoo officials did not know the sex of the cub. The cub, whom officials believed to have been a female, was found deceased on September 23, 2012 after Mei Xiang expressed distressed, honking-like sounds. Initial findings from the necropsy ruled out the possibility that it could have been crushed by Mei Xiang. However, it showed fluid in the giant panda cub's abdomen (which is usually abnormal), and some discoloration of some of the liver tissue. The liver was also hard in places. The cub's death was determined to be the result of insufficient oxygen to the liver. This was because the lungs were not fully developed, and consequently the lungs were unable to pick up oxygen for the red blood cells to deliver to the liver.
On March 30, 2013, veterinarians at the National Zoo artificially inseminated Mei Xiang after natural breeding failed to occur. At approximately 5:30 p.m. local time on August 23, 2013, it was announced that Mei Xiang had given birth to her third cub. Mei Xiang gave birth again the following night, Saturday, August 24, 2013 to a stillborn cub, a female. The surviving cub was later revealed to also be female. She was later named Bao Bao ("treasure", colloquially meaning "baby") when she turned 100 days old.
In August 2015, veterinarians found what was believed to be a giant panda fetus on an obstetric ultrasound. She had been displaying behaviors consistent with a pregnancy or pseudopregnancy: spending more time in her den, sleeping more, cradling objects, and licking her body. She went on to give birth to two live male giant panda cubs, both fathered by Tian Tian. She gave birth to the first live cub at 5:35pm on August 22, 2015, and delivered the second, larger cub later that night at 10:07 PM On August 26, 2015, the National Zoo announced that the smaller of the two cubs had died. The surviving cub, who (like Bao Bao) is a high-profile birth for the zoo, is being closely monitored by vets and keepers; many newborn panda cubs do not survive beyond a few hours or days, much less to their first year or to adulthood. Mei Xing's newest offspring was officially named Bei Bei, which means "precious, treasure." First Ladies Michelle Obama (USA) and Peng Liyuang (PRC) chose the name for the September 25, 2015 ceremony.
The zoo has set up a new and popular website called PandaStory about the cub and the pandas with updates every few days from the zoo's giant panda animal website (which has its own updates), and from its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, which also feature select clips from the PandaCam, and offers an app to better access the PandaCam. Mei Xiang left the den for a few minutes during the afternoon hours on Wednesday, September 2, 2015, giving the National Zoo's giant panda care team veterinarians an opportunity to do a quick health checkup and exam on the cub to ensure that he is growing and healthy. The team auscultated his heart and lungs, palpated his abdomen, and checked that he was able to move his forelimbs and hind limbs. He moves well, and has a full belly. The still-unnamed male cub, which is vocalizing well, weighed in at 287.5 grams (about 10 ounces). The eyes are still closed; the black markings are becoming more pronounced. 
On September 25, 2015, it was announced that the cub was named Bei Bei (meaning precious, treasure) by First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, and First Lady of the People's Republic of China, Peng Liyuan.
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