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Smaller newborn panda dies at Smithsonian National Zoo

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WASHINGTON–A panda cub has died just three and a half days after its birth.

It was reported on the zoo’s Twitter on August 25 that the mother, Mei Xiang, hadn’t swapped the cubs to feed the smaller of the two in almost a full day, meaning the cub had to be supplementally fed through bottles and tubes by the team.

The zoo continued trying to swap the panda cubs, but Mei would only accept the larger one. “Because the smaller cub has been away from Mei, the panda team is now managing it more intensely,” the zoo wrote.

The zoo said on Tuesday it was concerned about the little one’s weight, which continued to fluctuate, and that the cub had been regurgitating its food, which they were nervous could lead to aspiration. The baby was given antibiotics to prevent infection a day before it died.

The Smithsonian National Zoo wrote on Facebook that the panda team is continuing to monitor Mei Xiang and the larger cub, and that that cub is acting normally and seems strong.

At birth, the little cub weighed 86 grams, while the larger one weighed 138 grams. Mei weighs 238 pounds. According to the zoo, “bear cubs have the smallest infant-to-mother size ratio of any placental mammal at approximately 1 to 700.”

Here is a video from the little cub’s birth:

This isn’t the first time that Mei Xiang has lost a cub. A stillborn cub was born in 2013. And in 2012, Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub that died after just six days.

Mei Xiang has two other surviving cubs born in 2005 and 2013.

Click here for photos of the panda house courtesy of the National Zoo.