TODAY   |  July 16, 2013

Panda twins born in Atlanta zoo

The first pair of twin pandas born in the U.S. in 26 years arrived at Zoo Atlanta last night, shocking zookeepers, who say they were expecting just one. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports on the adorable new arrivals.

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>>> to a rare event, the birth of panda twins at the zoo in atlanta. it was captured on camera. gabe gutierrez is there. good morning to you.

>> reporter: matt. good morning. if you can believe it zoo keepers hearsay that the second panda was a total surprise. now, you guessed it, it is pure pandemonium out here. on the grand scale of cuteness, a baby panda usually ranks near the top. but at zoo atlanta today, there's something not even ron burgandy could have seen coming.

>> panda watch. the mood is tense.

>> reporter: yes twin baby pandas. the first pair born in the u.s. in 26 years.

>> we're still coming to grips with what just happened.

>> reporter: what happened was captured on the zoo's live camera. [ applause ]

>> reporter: a 15-year-old giant panda delivered her first cup at 6:21 last night.

>> second one.

>> no way.

>> reporter: it's twin came out two minutes later.

>> giant panda are endangered so every panda baby is important.

>> the last twin pandas in the u.s. were born in 1987 at the national zoo in washington. unfortunately they did not survive long. so here at zoo atlanta , officials realize the next few months will be delicate.

>> almost half the time they give birth to twins, the trick is that they don't raise two offspring. so here in the zoo, we're able to actually swap those cubs out with mom so she can raise them just not at the same time.

>> reporter: about 1600 pandas are believed to still be in the wild. these are the 4th and 5th panda cubs born here at zoo atlanta and zoo keepers plan to wait a few months before they name the cubs.

>> thank you very much. finally got the baby news we