The National Zoo is doing its best to carefully monitor the impossibly little baby panda twins, born on Saturday to momma bear Mei Xiang.
For example, in this video below, you can see one of them -- the firstborn -- squawking through a medical exam, given on Sunday.
The plan was to swap out the babies every four hours, so that Mei was caring for one of the twins at all times, while the other was being looked after by zoo staff.
But "Mei Xiang has not been a willing participant in the panda team’s efforts," the zoo said in a news release on Tuesday.
Since Monday afternoon, Mei has refused to surrender the bigger cub -- who, while technically the larger of the two, isn't exactly huge. The wee thing weighed just 138 grams at birth, or about a third of a pound. (Mei, for her part, weighs about 238 pounds.)
Meanwhile, the smaller cub, who weighed 86 grams when he or she was born -- that's 0.18 pounds -- is being cared for "more intensely" by zoo staff, according to the news release.
That care includes bottle and tube feeding, subcutaneous fluids and prophylactic antibiotics to stave any infections.
Why are panda babies so small, you are no doubt wondering?
It's thought to be an evolutionary strategy: Researchers believe that it is more efficient for pandas to convert their primary food source, bamboo, into milk than it is to grow more animal tissue.
The zoo says this is still, indeed, a "high-risk period" for the twins. (Who may have two different fathers, since Mei was artificially inseminated with sperm from two different males.)
Knock bamboo, so far both cubs appear to be doing well.
We highly you recommend you stay glued to the National Zoo's Panda Cam for the foreseeable future -- don't worry, your employer understands -- while also checking the zoo's Facebook page for panda updates.
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