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Twin baby pandas look healthy after birth, zookeepers say

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials at the National Zoo say they’re optimistic about the chances that twin giant panda cubs will survive thanks in part to a technique developed by panda breeders in China.

Panda mom Mei Xiang gave birth to two cubs about five hours apart on Saturday. Both appear healthy.

Panda keepers will perform the delicate task of swapping the cubs every few hours so that each gets a chance to nurse and bond with its mother. The technique has allowed several pairs of panda twins to survive in the past decade, including one in Atlanta.

Zoo director Dennis Kelly says the survival rate for panda cubs born in captivity is now greater than 80 percent. Twenty years ago, it was under 20 percent.