China / Society

Rare panda triplets turn 2 month old

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-29 18:47

GUANGZHOU - The world's only surviving giant panda triplets turned 2 months old on Monday, a day after their mother celebrated her 12th birthday.

The cubs were born within four hours of each other on July 29 at the Chime Long Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. They are the longest living set of panda triplets in history.

Zhang Hemin, director of the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in west China's Sichuan Province, has told Xinhua that the triplets have passed the newborn "danger zone" and have an unprecedented 95-percent likelihood of survival.

The triplets born at Chime Long is the fourth case of panda triplets ever recorded, according to the center. But in all previous instances, at least one of the triplets died from physical defects or being underweight.

Now the triplets have grown to around 3.5 kilograms each, and their weights are still growing by 3 to 5 percent every day.

The cubs have little hearing, but their ears will "open" in one or two months, said Dong Guixin, general manager of Chime Long Safari Parks. Dong added that other memorable events in their development also include teething and standing up.

The cubs' facial features are also becoming distinct, helping viewers distinguish them from one another when they're open to public, said a keeper on duty.

"Mother Juxiao is not able to feed all her three children currently,"said Dong.

"So the triplets take turns staying with her, each one for a week. The mother's licking and touching are something humans can never provide."

"A mother panda taking care of three cubs is something the world has never seen before."

One of the mother's caretakers said they're feeding Juxiao with the freshest food, so she can produce enough milk for the babies.

The mother panda currently is taking care of the female first-born of the trio, the smallest of all three.

"At this stage, the first-born appears to be a very gentle girl," said Wei Ming, an expert in charge of the newborn panda's feeding and management.

The other two are boys. Both of them have grey hair between their eyes, but one is bigger in size.

"The elder brother is a naughty and energetic boy with a slim figure, while the younger brother is a quite big boy," Wei added.

The brothers feed on special panda formula. Their daily intakes are strictly measured in accordance with weights.

Wei is one of the country's top baby panda caretakers. In his 13-year career with the Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, he has nursed more than 100 newborns, including Yuan Zai, the first Taiwan-born panda.

Wei arrived at Chime Long the day Juxiao went into labor and has since taken the challenges presented by panda triplets head-on.

"The condition of the first-born was actually not good. It had scratches on its tail and its temperature was dropping," Wei recalled, "And the most dangerous thing was that it didn't eat for about 13 hours."

"I felt so relieved seeing it swallow the first mouthful of milk after trying and trying again, because the foremilk is extremely important to the cubs' growth. If it can eat properly, it would have a big chance to survive."

Juxiao was sent by the center to Chime Long zoo for scientific research.

Giant Pandas have a famously low reproductivity and many of the animals are reluctant to mate. But Dong told Xinhua that Juxiao has a "passionate" relationship with her boyfriend Linlin.

"Their mating is completely natural. It was after their intercourse that we use artificial insemination to improve the odds of conception."Dong explained. "But it was the intimacy with Linlin that spurred Juxiao's ovulation and helped her breed three healthy babies."

Pregnant pandas gradually lose their appetite as the delivery approaches. Juxiao had stopped eating 3 days before labor, and spent a lot of energy building a nest. "That's why she was so exhausted after giving birth to three cubs, which were smaller than human palms."

Dong said Juxiao is a super mother as she is not only devoted to the cubs, but also can cooperate well with her human friends.

"From her conception to the delivery, and then to the daily feeding and nursing of the cubs, these tasks can never be done without cooperation between the mother panda and our staff," Dong said.

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