Vets monitoring progress of zoo's new twin pandas



ATLANTA -  Nearly 24 hours after Zoo Atlanta was amazed by the surprise birth of its first twin panda cubs, Channel 2 Action News is learning more about their care and following up on their progress.

Channel 2's Erin Coleman obtained new video of the zoo's giant panda, Lun Lun, with one of her cubs. The first was born at 6:21 p.m. Monday evening. Then -- surprise -- a second cub came just two minutes later.

"She's a good mom and an experienced mom, but this is a little different for her as well," said Dwight Lawson, Zoo Atlanta deputy director.

Lawson said staff veterinarians are rotating the cubs between mom and an incubator, so each gets the care it needs. And at this early stage, they're being extremely cautious.

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"It's literally an hour-to-hour thing given how small and fragile they are. At this stage things can be going well one minute and literally the next, you're in crisis mode because something's happened," Lawson said.

The twin cubs make numbers 4 and 5 for parents Lun Lun and Yang Yang. The parents made their debut 14 years ago.

"We came over when they brought the pandas from Asia. We were here then," said zoo patron Terry Steele.

Channel 2 Action News traveled to China in 1999. Crews visited Lun Lun and Yang Yang at a research facility just before they were loaned to Zoo Atlanta. Channel 2 Action News tracked every minute of their intercontinental move, leaving their habitat, getting on the road, boarding the plane, and finally landing in Atlanta.

"Just to have pandas is a real honor. There are only four zoos in the U.S. that have them. It's a major relationship issue with China. They're not just handing these things out so that's an honor in and of itself," Lawson said.

And now, the honor is doubled as Atlanta welcomes these new little cubs.

"I think it's very exciting. (They're) twins and they were born on my birthday," Steele said.
Veterinarians should learn the sex of the new twins in the next few days. The twin pandas will be on display in November.

The twin pandas are the first of several births at the zoo. This fall, the zoo is expecting the first baby rhino, another orangutan baby, and another gorilla baby as well.

Click here to 'LIKE' the birth of the twin cubs on Facebook.