Mei Xiang

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Mei Xiang
Giant Female Panda Mei Xiang Munching Bamboo -- The National Zoo NW Washington (DC) November 2017.jpg
Mei Xiang munching bamboo, National Zoo, November 2017
SpeciesGiant panda
(1998-07-22) July 22, 1998 (age 21)
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
OwnerNational Zoo in Washington D.C.
Parent(s)Xue Xue and Lin Nan
Weight230 lb (104 kg)
Named afterBeautiful fragrance

Mei Xiang (Chinese 美香 Měi Xiāng [mèiɕjɑ́ŋ] "beautiful fragrance") is a female giant panda who lives at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

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.[1]

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 playing with son, 7 month old Tai Shan, Feb. 14, 2006, at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington
Mei Xiang at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., February 2010

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.[2] Another cub was born on the night of September 16, 2012, and was a surprise to zookeepers.[3] 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.[4][5]

On March 30, 2013, veterinarians at the National Zoo artificially inseminated Mei Xiang after natural breeding failed to occur.[6] 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.[7] Mei Xiang gave birth again the following night, Saturday, August 24, 2013 to a stillborn cub, a female.[8] 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.[9] She went on to give birth to two live male giant panda cubs, both fathered by Tian Tian.[10] 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[11] 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


  1. ^ "Meet Mei Xiang and Tian Tian". National Zoo. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  2. ^ DiMargo, Carissa (17 September 2012). "Cub is born to National Zoo's giant panda". NBC News. New York City.
  3. ^ "National Zoo Panda Cub Dies". NBC New York.
  4. ^ "Female panda cub died of insufficient oxygen to liver". USA TODAY. October 11, 2012.
  5. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (17 September 2012). "National Zoo welcomes baby panda". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.
  6. ^ Sutton, Jane (30 March 2013). "Giant panda artificially inseminated at U.S. National Zoo". Reuters. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Breaking: MEI XIANG IS IN LABOR". Smithsonian. 23 August 2013. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  8. ^ Nuckols, Ben (25 August 2013). "National Zoo panda cub healthy, vibrant". USA Today.
  9. ^ "Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute". Facebook.
  10. ^ "National Zoo's surviving panda cub is a boy – and he is growing up quickly". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "2015 Panda Updates August 23". Archived from the original on 2015-08-26. Retrieved 2015-08-29.

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