Last Monday, a giant panda named Yang Yang gave birth to a cub at the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria — or so the zookeepers thought.
The staff soon heard enough squeaking coming from the enclosure to suspect that something surprising might have happened — that Yang Yang gave birth to two cubs. On Friday, the zoo was able to confirm that the panda had in fact given birth to not one, but two cubs.
That delay may seem surprising to some, but as the zoo believes in all-natural methods it restricts humans from entering the panda enclosure soon after the birth. Thus, the staff was only able to survey Yang Yang via a video feed, and the second cub was able to elude them for five days.
Because these beloved bears — just over 1,800 of which still exist in the wild — have long been the poster child for endangered species, and because getting them to mate in captivity is astoundingly difficult, it’s always quite an occasion when a zoo has a panda birth to announce.
And when there are two births to announce, things are that much more exciting.
Indeed, the zoo’s video of Yang Yang with both cubs (above) has already been viewed more than 150,000 times in the last 24 hours on the zoo’s channels alone — not to mention the millions of views stemming from the tide of international media coverage.
Viewers anxious for more will have to wait, however, to hear what the cubs will be named. According to Chinese tradition, the zoo will not name the cubs until after they’ve been alive for 100 days.
For now, these tiny 15-centimeter cubs (the smallest, proportionally, of any placental mammal on Earth) simply need mother’s milk — and plenty of it. Newborns can nurse as many as 14 times per day for as long as 30 minutes at a time. All this feeding will ultimately pay off, and by the end of their first year, the cubs will reach about 100 pounds.
The first several months, however, are all about nurturing. The new Schönbrunn cubs won’t even be presented to visitors until they’ve reached four months. In the meantime, panda lovers are welcome to keep up with Yang Yang and the cubs via the zoo’s video updates.