Aww!
Zoo staff worried panda would reject cub until motherly instincts kick in
The moment she understands that it's her baby is so sweet and touching. A mother's love is a mother's love no matter what the species.
D.G. Sciortino
10.21.21

When giant pandas’ babies are born into this world, they are completely helpless and unrecognizable from the enormous black and white creatures we often know them as.

According to National Geographic, when pandas are born they are pink, bald, blind, wrinkly, and about the size of a stick of butter.

They also can’t walk, regulate their own body temperatures, hear, crawl, hold themselves up, or poop or pee on their own.

Basically, baby pandas are completely helpless without their mamas.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

That leaves mothers to take care of all of their needs. Mother pandas have to cradle the babies to keep them warm and rub their bellies to stimulate their muscles to release bodily waste.

“In these early weeks, panda mothers don’t leave their cubs, even when they need to eat or drink,” National Geographic explains.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

So, when a panda mother gives birth to twins, she will often only be able to care for one child at a time and will abandon the weaker of the two twins.

Caretakers of pandas in captivity will often step in to take care of the abandoned twin by switching them on the mother so they both get maternal attention and feedings.

The Washington Post reports that adult animals will often abandon their babies if the baby has a foreign smell to them.

This can be problematic when it comes to breeding in a zoo.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

This can occur if the babies have been handled by humans.

While BBC Earth doesn’t completely explain why how Min Min and her baby were separated, their reunion was heartwarming just the same.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

Min Min’s baby was in the hands of her human caretakers who had her in an incubator and were keeping her nice and warm.

Though the baby finally sprouted some white hairs, her eyes were still closed.

Still, the staff deemed her healthy enough to be reunited with her mom.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

But caretakers weren’t sure if Min Min had enough time to bond with their baby. She also had the smell of humans on her.

So they were concerned that Min Min might reject her daughter.

The caretakers decided to bring the two together to find out. Min Min was being kept in a room with tiled walls and a smooth stone floor with some handfuls of grass to eat.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

Caretakers opened the door and held the baby by its bottom while it yelped for its mama and tried to run toward her.

This poor little thing is literally screaming for its mom but Min Min stayed in her corner showing little interest.

It wasn’t a good sign, but Min Min’s keepers weren’t giving up yet.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

They brought the baby closer to her mother and let go of her.

The baby wailed and rolled around on the floor waiting for mom to pick her up.

Still, Min Min just ignored her helpless baby. The keepers decided to tidy up the cell a bit to make Min Min more comfortable.

BBC Earth - YouTube
Source:
BBC Earth - YouTube

After a while, Min Min’s maternal instincts finally kick in. Maybe she was getting tired of all that baby crying?

Either way, she finally gives in and scoops the child up in her mouth, and goes to the corner of the room to settle in with her.

She cradles the baby in her arms and cuddles it until its cries cease. The staff gave a sigh of relief now that mother and child were officially reunited.

Watch Min Min’s heartwarming reunion with her cub in the video below!

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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