Meng Meng The Panda Gives Birth To Rare Twins - Providing Hope For The 'At Risk' Species
Meng Meng, a giant panda and resident at Zoo Tierpark in Germany's capital, has just become a mother of two, in an "extremely rare" moment.
The zoo confirmed today (2nd September) that the endangered panda gave birth to a "hand-sized" cub at 18.54 on Saturday (31st August) and its twin an hour later.
"Meng Meng became a mom - twice! We are so happy, we are speechless!," the zoo tweeted along with a video showing Meng Men holding one of the pink, hairless cubs.
In a statement, the zoo said: "[Meng Meng] placed the tiny creature gently on her belly and began to warm it lovingly with her big paws, warm breath, and the soft fur of her cheeks."
The species are said to be notoriously hard to breed, which is why zoo keepers were overjoyed when Meng Meng became pregnant to her nine-year-old partner Jiao Qing in April this year. She was also artificially inseminated to improve the chances of pregnancy.
The zoo only confirmed that Meng Meng - who arrived from China in 2017 alongside her panda beau - was pregnant in late August.
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The twins weigh 136g and 186g respectively, and their genders have not yet been announced. They also haven't been named yet, though we can't wait to hear what adorable monikers they'll be given.
China's national animal is routinely given to other countries as 'diplomatic gifts', known as 'panda diplomacy', a tradition dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
Berlin's Zoo paid $15 million (roughly £12.4 million) for a 15-year contract to host Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, with the majority of the only going towards conservation and breeding in China.
As per the contract, while the twins cubs have been born in Berlin, the remain technically Chinese and must be returned to China within four years of being weaned.
According to WWF, there are currently 1,864 pandas in the wild.
"Despite their exalted status and relative lack of natural predators, pandas are still at risk," words on the wildlife charity's website read. "Severe threats from humans have left just over 1,800 pandas in the wild."
Despite their worrying number, the giant panda has risen in numbers since the 1970s when there was thought to be just 1050 pandas left, and the species was taken off the extinction list in 2016.
Featured Image Credit: PA