Who’s your daddy?
The Smithsonian National Zoo answered that question Thursday for its 2-week-old giant panda cub, which was revealed to be a girl.
The new cub is the daughter of Tian Tian, one of two male pandas used to inseminate the cub’s mother.
Mei Xiang delivered her female cub on Aug. 23. She delivered a second, stillborn cub a day later. Zoo officials confirmed the second cub, a fraternal twin of its sister, also was female.
Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated twice on March 30 after failing to breed naturally with Tian Tian, her zoo playmate. Officials also used frozen semen from Gao Goa, a panda at the San Diego Zoo. They used two DNA-based tests to determine the baby’s gender and parentage.
"We had never artificially inseminated Mei Xiang with semen from two males before this past breeding season," said Pierre Comizzoli, a Smithsonian reproductive biologist. "If Gao Gao had been the father of one or both cubs, that would have been very interesting because we would have known that the second artificial insemination was the one that was successful."
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Mei Xiang has given birth to two cubs in the past, but a female cub she delivered last September lived for less than a week. Her only surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and now lives in China as part of an agreement with the government there.