The Toronto Zoo is celebrating a Canadian first with the birth of two tiny, pink panda cubs.
According to the zoo, Er Shun, a panda on loan from China, gave birth to the first cub at 3:31 a.m. Tuesday. The second followed at 3:44 a.m.
“Er Shun is demonstrating excellent maternal instincts and began cleaning and cradling the cub soon after its birth,” according to Toronto Zoo press release.
After the second cub was born, zoo staff and two Chinese experts took the baby as part of a twin hand-rearing strategy.
When twin panda cubs are born in captivity, the mother is seldom attentive to the needs of both. In the wild, pandas are very unlikely to feed and care for twins, leaving one to die while nurturing the other.
To help prevent one of the cubs from dying, the zoo team kept it warm in an incubator and fed it a special mixture to keep it nourished. About two hours later, the cubs were swapped to provide an opportunity for Er Shun to bond with both.