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Second panda cub at US National Zoo is stillborn

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A giant panda gave birth to a stillborn cub Saturday, one day after giving birth to a healthy cub, officials at the National Zoo in the US capital said.

Zoo workers were thrilled when female giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a still-unnamed baby Friday afternoon. Pandas often give birth to twins, so Mei Xiang was closely monitored all day Saturday via closed-circuit cameras.

Then, at 7:29 pm (2329 GMT), "Mei Xiang gave birth to a second, stillborn cub. It had developmental abnormalities, wasn't fully formed and was never alive," the National Zoo said in a Twitter message late Saturday.

"Mei groomed the stillborn cub for 17 minutes, then it fell on to the floor where it lay motionless and made no sound," the Zoo said.

It later added via Twitter that staff workers retrieved the motionless cub, and that they would carry out an autopsy.

The first cub, however, appears to be fine. "The staff could hear the first cub squealing throughout. It continues to appear to do well," the Zoo said.

Earlier in the day the Zoo had given up hope that there would be another birth. "It is extremely unlikely that a twin will be born," Zoo officials said via Twitter after the first cub was 16 hours old.

Zoo workers also failed in their attempt to distract Mei Xiang and take the cub for a physical exam and determine its sex.

Saturday's birth was the fourth for Mei Xiang, who along with her male counterpart Tian Tian is on loan to the US zoo from China.

In September, Mei Xiang gave birth to a female cub, but it died six days later from liver damage due to underdeveloped lungs.

Mei Xiang had five false pregnancies from 2007 to 2012.

Her first cub, Tai Shan, was born in July 2005 as a result of artificial insemination. It now lives at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya'an, China.

ch-bur/jhb

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130825/second-panda-cub-at-us-national-zoo-stillborn