Vienna Zoo is celebrating its latest arrival: a giant panda cub.
The baby bear was born on Sunday, Aug. 7, to mother Yang Yang and father Long Hui. This marks the fourth time that Yang Yang has given birth after having her other children — Fu Long, Fu Hu and Fu Bao.
The cub's sex is not yet known, though in a statement Monday, Tiergarten Schoenbrunn, the zoo's official name,revealed that its newest addition is 4 inches long and weighs in at 3.5 ounces. In addition, a spokeswoman for the zoo recently added that the panda will be named after 100 days.
This occasion is worthy of celebration for two reasons: first of all, most panda breeding centers typically resort to artificial insemination due to low birth rates (as opposed to this instance, where Yang Yang conceived naturally). Additionally, even in that case, artificial insemination is only a better option by definition. There is still an assortment of difficulties associated with giant panda births, such as the fact that pandas experience embryonic dispause, where the egg is fertilized but not yet implanted in the uterine wall — meaning that it can't grow until it implants itself.
Furthermore, female pandas can experience psuedopregnancy, where they exhibit the same behaviors as a pregnant panda but are not yet pregnant. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to distinguish between the two, since panda fetuses are often too small to be spotted on an ultrasound. Due to these factors, it is often until a panda is actually born that a pregnancy is confirmed.
The other reason why this event is noteworthy is because of the endangered status of giant pandas. As of now, there are only 1,864 pandas living in the wild in China, which is where this cub will be presumably sent when it gets older. The panda's situation has been getting better as of late, but not to the extent that experts believe that the species can be reclassified from endangered to vulnerable.
Now, with its latest addition, the zoo's panda area has been closed so that Yang Yang can care for her cub in peace, while Long Hui is being kept away for the cub's safety.
"[Yang Yang] is taking good care of her offspring," said zoo director Dagmar Schratter.
However, even though the cub has been successfully born, it is still not out of the woods just yet: about 40 percent of giant pandas don't survive their first year of life.