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National Zoo panda cub born: Mei Xiang gives birth after five pseudopregnancies

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WASHINGTON (AP/ABC7) - The National Zoo's female giant panda has given birth to a cub following five consecutive pseudopregnancies in as many years.

The zoo's new panda cub is being watched closely on a 'panda cam.' Photo: Smithsonian National Zoo

Pandas, bears and great cats at the National Zoo

Pandas, bears and great cats at the National Zoo 11 Photos
Pandas, bears and great cats at the National Zoo
Proud father Tian Tian was spotted getting some fresh air at the zoo Monday morning.

Mei Xiang gave birth Sunday at 10:46 p.m., the zoo said. The staff can hear the cub, but has yet to see it because Mei Xiang has built a large nest in her den.

PANDA CAM: Watch the Zoo's new panda cub on the National Zoo Panda Cam

In a news release, Dennis Kelly, the zoo's director, said he was thrilled.

"I'm cautiously optimistic as we haven't seen the cub yet, but we know that Mei is a good mother," Kelly said.

The cub is the second born to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian as the result of artificial insemination. Mei Xiang has had five consecutive pseudopregnancies since 2007 and had a less than a 10 percent chance of being pregnant after so many failed attempts.

Veterinarians will perform the first physical exam after Mei Xiang and the cub have had time to bond, the zoo said. The new mother will most likely not come out of her den, or eat or drink, for at least a week.

Even though the baby panda can be clearly heard, it will be at least a few days - perhaps weeks - until we actually see the new cub. Mei Xiang has built a large next in her den of bamboo, protecting the newborn. 

The baby panda is no bigger than a stick of butter. Despite the fact that the cub can't be seen yet, panda enthusiasts flocked to the National Zoo on Monday to catch a glimpse of Tain Tain, the proud father, getting some fresh air.

"As soon as we heard the news, (we) packed our lunch and came on down," Zoo visitor Sharon Watts said.

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