19 Sep '12, 12pm

The Panda Vigil: Until the moment of birth, zookeepers in Washington could not be sure that Mei Xiang was pregnant.

The Panda Vigil: Until the moment of birth, zookeepers in Washington could not be sure that Mei Xiang was pregnant.

Reuters Guarding her secrets: Mei Xiang at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington. On Sunday night, Brandie Smith , the curator of endangered giant pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, was at her computer, taking part in a charged conference call that revolved around a squawk. “Did we hear a squeak? Was that a squeak?” she said in an interview, describing the back and forth. With two other zoo officials, Dr Smith was counting the sounds — all of them squeals “like nothing you’ve ever heard before” – before she and her colleagues were ready to make an announcement. “Once you have a baby panda, the whole world gets involved,” she said. In a video made on Sunday night, the mother, Mei Xiang , can be seen rustling in her dense nest of bamboo at 10:45 p.m. as she undergoes contractions. “She gives birth,” said Don Moore, associate director of animal care sc...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/the-panda-vigil/

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