Washington pandas in fine form despite videos causing concern

Updated 2017-05-31 13:31:21 Ecns.cn
Giant panda Bei Bei plays around at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., May 29, 2017.

Giant panda Bei Bei plays around at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., May 29, 2017.

(ECNS) -- Baby giant panda Bei Bei and mother Mei Xiang, who both live at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., are in good condition, according to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda and the National Zoo.

There had been heated discussion at home and abroad after online videos showed Bei Bei searching for her mother, Mei Xiang looking through rubbish for food in the middle of the night, and a snake wandering through Mei Xiang's living area.

Internet users questioned whether the giant pandas were being abused at the National Zoo. People also questioned whether the pair had been forcibly separated, whether Mei Xiang was suffering from hunger, and whether Bei Bei might be depressed.

The Chinese center issued a statement on May 27 denying the allegations, after sending experts to the National Zoo for a field investigation.

Cubs can be weaned and begin an independent life from six to 18 months of age, experts with the center said.

Bei Bei was weaned from its mother at 18 months old, and that was the right time, according to the statement. Bei Bei was not depressed, and the vomiting, which was shown in the videos, was caused by roundworms, the center said.

Mei Xiang ate less food when she was in heat, and she was certainly not starving, it said in the statement.

The snake, which was shown in the video, was non-poisonous and would not hurt the pandas. Some other kinds of animals, including squirrels and wild ducks, could also be found in the panda's house.

An official with the National Zoo also confirmed to media that the giant pandas were fine in the U.S.. Bei Bei had adjusted to independent living after a one-week adoption period, the official said.

Bei Bei weighed 150 pounds (68 kilograms) at 20 months old, heavier than its brother and sister at the same age, and had recovered from having roundworms.

Mei Xiang and her partner panda Tian Tian were both in heat recently, and the National Zoo conducted artificial insemination on May 25. Mei Xiang is in good condition even though she is 18 years old, the official said.

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