UNITED STATES

Surprise as giant panda gives birth to twins at Atlanta Zoo

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 5:03pm

A giant panda at the Atlanta Zoo delivered a surprise extra bundle of joy when she gave birth to twins - an unexpected bonus for zoo officials who were anticipating only a single cub. Lun Lun delivered the tiny, hairless duo on Monday, the first giant panda cubs to be born in the United States this year, zoo officials said.

"We had no reason to expect twins, although we had not ruled them out," said Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, adding that pandas in the wild regularly give birth to twins, though since they can only care for one, the other soon dies. "On the few ultrasound images that mom actually co-operated with, we only saw one developing fetus." Twin cubs have never been born at Zoo Atlanta. Lun Lun has previously given birth to three cubs there.

The sex of the cubs has not been determined yet, Lawson said. Panda cubs are pink, hairless and blind. Lun Lun weighs more than 91kg, he said, while panda babies are about 1/900th the size of their mothers.

The zoo will work with experts in China to decide on how to name the twins once they turn 100 days old. Taiwanese rock star Su Huilun named Lun Lun, while US actor Jack Black was at the naming of her most recent cub, Po, whose namesake character Black voiced a character in the Kung Fu Panda movies. Photo: Reuters