- Title: Berlin celebrates birth of Germany's first giant panda cubs
- Date: 2nd September 2019
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (SEPTEMBER 2, 2019) (REUTERS) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM BEING INTERVIEWED BERLIN ZOO VISITORS LISTENING TO KNIERIEM TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM, SAYING: "We knew that something was coming but it can take 15 hours or even 35 hours. So we had a nervous time waiting. But then on Saturday evening the moment arrived, at the best possible time. And the nice thing is that the second baby arrived just 45 minutes after the first one and we could start our work." KNIERIEM TALKING TO MEDIA AND ONLOOKERS (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM, SAYING: "Both the young animals are doing well, they were born a good size. The first baby is especially big and that's why Meng Meng seemed to be battling a bit. She had a lot of contractions and needed some time before the baby finally came out. The second birth was significantly faster and the most important thing is that we could get on with our work straight away, that means that our Chinese colleagues who are over from Chengdu could immediately start with their professional work. You could just see it, how well they know their job. Both of the small ones switch between being with their mother and being in the incubator. Doing both is how it should be as this gives the mother some time to rest and allows us to weigh the little ones and give them extra milk." KNIERIEM TALKING TO MEDIA AND ONLOOKERS (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM, SAYING: "The larger baby was born with 186 grammes which is relatively large for a small panda. They are usually 100-130 grammes. The second baby came in at 136 grammes at birth, which is also at the top end of the curve. So they are strong new-borns. And how do they emerge, well to put it slightly charmlessly, they look like small rats with barely any hair with, by the way, a surprisingly long tail. They are reddish pink and the claws are already there, that I can tell you. They are also still blind." FATHER PANDA JIAO QING EATING BAMBOO (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM, SAYING: "They were born and she immediately took them very tenderly and took them carefully in her mouth and then nestled them carefully against her chest and protected them with her big arms. So it is all happening so totally instinctively and naturally and well that we are totally inspired and happy." FATHER PANDA JIAO QING EATING BAMBOO (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO DIRECTOR, ANDREAS KNIERIEM, SAYING: "On the whole pandas don't raise two young. Rather they choose one and cast the other one out and completely negate its existence. And that's why we have so much work because of their being two young. If there was only one it would be left almost completely to Meng Meng. What are we doing, we take one from her and leave her the other in rotation so that she doesn't really notice and so both animals have equal chances to get taught social behaviour." FATHER PANDA JIAO QING LYING ON BACK EATING BAMBOO (SOUNDBITE) (German) BERLIN ZOO VISITOR, THOMAS AND ALEXANDRA SCHNEIDER, SAYING: THOMAS: "It's great that they managed to get the two animals to mate." ALEXANDRA: "I mean it's totally rare, and then that it is also twins, it's incredible." THOMAS: "Amazing that they even managed it, right?" ALEXANDRA: "Yeah, it's really amazing." THOMAS: "And then to get offspring from an endangered animal, offspring is always great. We are very happy!"
- Embargoed: 16th September 2019 14:00
- Keywords: Berlin Zoo panda babies panda twins panda Meng Meng
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA002AUYS4M1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Germany's first giant panda cubs have been born and their mother, Meng Meng, is doing a wonderful job looking after the pink twins who bear no resemblance to their black and white furry parents, Berlin Zoo announced on Monday.
Immediately after the first birth, the mother placed the creature on her belly and warmed it with her large paws and soft fur, said the zoo's director, adding that the new mother was acting instinctively and doing everything right.
The second panda baby was born 45 minutes after the first much to the relief of the zoo after Meng Meng struggled to get the first large baby out.
The cubs weigh 186 and 136 grams, large for panda young who usually weigh between 100-130 grammes at birth.
The cubs' gender has not yet been determined although the zoo said they had an idea but would not yet comment.
As pandas with twins usually raise only one of the cubs, the zoo is actively supporting Meng Meng, 6, in the rearing process and has enlisted experts from China's Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo to help.
It is notoriously difficult to get giant pandas to mate and with only 1,864 adults living in their natural habitat, every new cub is an important contribution to the conservation of the species.
After weeks of speculation which made headlines in Berlin and national newspapers, experts at the zoo confirmed just over a week ago that Meng Meng was pregnant.
China has long engaged in 'panda diplomacy'. German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who heads to China on a pre-planned visit this week - and Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Meng Meng and Jiao Qing to Berlin Zoo at a ceremony in 2017 as part of a loan agreement.
Under that deal, any cubs will be returned to China once they no longer need their mother. But for now, Berlin is celebrating.
Meanwhile, panda father Jiao Qing, 9, is relaxing and munching on bamboo as he is not involved in cub rearing.
(Production: Bettina Borgfeld, Tanya Wood)
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