The smaller of twin panda cubs born during the weekend to giant panda Mei Xiang died after experiencing difficulty breathing, Washington’s National Zoo said.
The cub, whose up-and-down weight since its birth Saturday had raised concerns among the zoo keepers, died shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The twins’ birth captured international attention, as giant pandas, native to China, are among the world’s most endangered species.
“We are sad to report that the smaller of the two panda cubs has died,” @NationalZoo posted on Twitter.
“The larger cub appears to be strong, robust, behaving normally and is with mother Mei Xiang,” the zoo said in a press release.
After the twins were born, zoo keepers decided to swap the cubs in Mei Xiang’s possession every four hours so each had time to nurse and spend quality time with her.
On Tuesday, however, Mei Xiang would not switch, and zoo officials became concerned for the smaller cub.
Both baby pandas were still furless and about the size of a stick of butter.
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