WASHINGTON (AP) — Condolences are pouring in from around the world to the National Zoo in Washington, a day after the death of a 6-day-old panda cub.
Zoo officials say the cub had liver abnormalities, but a cause of death won't be known until further tests are complete.
They say the cub appeared to be in good condition. It had been drinking its mother's milk. And it wasn't accidentally crushed to death by its mother, which has happened to other panda cubs in captivity.
The mother panda has started eating and interacting with her keepers again. She slept last night while cradling a plastic toy, in what zoo officials say was an apparent show of maternal instinct.
One Virginia woman who brought her two young sons to see the pandas today says she feels sorry for the mother -- who she says must be "in mourning."
Zoo director Dennis Kelly says, "Every loss is hard" -- but that this one is "especially devastating." He says workers had put in a lot of work over the past six years, in the hopes of producing another cub.
Zoo officials aren't ruling out another effort to impregnate the mother panda -- who, at the age of 14, may still have a few years of fertility.
178-a-13-(Dr. Suzanne Murray, chief veterinarian, National Zoo, at news conference)-"she usually does"-National Zoo chief veterinarian Dr. Suzanne Murray says the mother seems to be getting back into her usual routine. (24 Sep 2012)
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180-a-11-(Dennis Kelly, director, National Zoo, at news conference)-"natural mothering instinct"-National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly says the mother panda held a toy after her cub died. (24 Sep 2012)
<<CUT *180 (09/24/12)>> 00:11 "natural mothering instinct"
APPHOTO WX101: FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo shows Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. The panda cub born to Mei Xiang on Sept. 16, 2012, after five consecutive pseudo pregnancies over the years, died Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh/File) (19 Dec 2011)
<<APPHOTO WX101 (12/19/11)>>