The Toronto Zoo announced their female giant panda bear Er Shun gave birth to healthy twin cubs early this morning, October 13. They are the first panda bear cubs to be born in Canada.
At this point, representatives from the zoo said they aren’t able to determine the sex of the cubs, nor who the father is, as they were conceived via non-surgical artificial insemination.
In a release, the Toronto Zoo said Er Shun is responding well to the new babies and immediately began cradling and handling the first cub following its birth. When the second cub was born, panda experts with the zoo retrieved it and placed it in an incubator. They switched it out two hours later with the first cub to allow Er Shun to bond with it.
The babies are extremely small relative to the size of their mother. They are only 0.08 to 0.2 kilograms in weight, and the zoo compares their size to a stick of butter – that’s 1/900th the size of their mother. They’re also born without much fur and are pink in colour.
— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) October 13, 2015
The pandas will stay in the maternity area, which is closed to the public, for several months while the cubs grow. The next few days will be critical to their survival, as they’re very vulnerable at this stage.
“On behalf of the Toronto Zoo Board of Management we are proud of all staff at the zoo who have helped bring this vision to a reality,” said Raymond Cho, chair of the board in a statement.
“Our researchers, veterinarians, and wildlife care staff are some of the best in the world, and we are grateful to the People’s Republic of China for entrusting these endangered animals to us. We look forward to sharing our learnings with scientists around the world in the hope this will help us save this endangered species,” he added.
The pandas are on loan to the Toronto Zoo from China until 2018, when they will be relocated to the Calgary Zoo.
Watch Er Shun give birth to her first cub below: