Yuan Yuan the giant panda and her new baby had a heart-melting reunion at Taipei Zoo that began with the cub swinging gently from her jaws and ended with the pair asleep in a heap on the floor.
The female giant panda cub was born July 6, bright pink and tiny at about 6 1/2 ounces, according to the Taiwanese zoo.
The cub, called Yuan Zai, is the first offspring of giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, who were given as a diplomatic gift to Taiwan by the Chinese mainland. The cub was “slightly injured” by her mother in the first days after her birth, reported the AFP, so zookeepers separated the infant and placed her in an incubator.
Panda cubs are particularly vulnerable at birth. They’re just 1/900th of their mother’s weight, according to the National Zoo. A cub averages about 7 inches long, its limbs are weak, and it cries loudly and frequently.
Yuan Zai is now a little more than a month old and has her trademark black and white fur. She still will not be able to stand or walk for several weeks. Last week, the baby had a through-the-bars meeting with Yuan Yuan, who licked the baby on the nose from inside her cage. On Friday, zookeepers placed Yuan Zai inside an enclosure and allowed her mother to enter.
Using her mouth, Yuan Yuan picked up the squawking baby by the head and swung her into an embrace. Video released Tuesday by Taipei Zoo shows her cuddling and breast feeding the cub during the reunion, which reportedly lasted several hours. Worn out, she and her daughter eventually napped on the floor.