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Panda cub described as healthy and vibrant

A zoo worker performed a neonatal exam Sunday on a 4.8-ounce giant panda cub at the Smithsonian zoo.

Courtney Janney/AP

A zoo worker performed a neonatal exam Sunday on a 4.8-ounce giant panda cub at the Smithsonian zoo.

WASHINGTON — The giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo appears to be in excellent health, zookeepers reported after a 10-minute physical exam Sunday morning.

The panda, born Friday afternoon, weighs 4.8 ounces, is pink with white fur and wriggled and squealed loudly when it was taken away from its mother, zoo officials said.

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A second cub was stillborn Saturday, but zookeepers were still overjoyed at the prospect of one healthy cub, given that pandas are critically endangered and breeding them in captivity has proved difficult, especially in Washington.

The cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, gave birth to her only surviving cub, a male named Tai Shan, in 2005. Tai Shan enjoyed rock star status before he was returned to China in 2010. China owns the pandas at the National Zoo.

The new cub had a full stomach, and veterinarians reported that it has been digesting its food, zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said Sunday. Its heartbeat is steady and its lungs appear to be functioning properly.

Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub last year after several years of failed breeding, but the cub died after six days.

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