Baby ‘Boom’ June for Giant Pandas


Yes, that’s right, the third worldwide birth of a panda cub this year makes it official - it’s a panda baby boom! A rare event for the endangered species, as a healthy male cub was born in a Belgian zoo at the beginning of this month. So rare in fact that there are only 2000 giant pandas left in the wild - I have just been itching to share the news…

It has been reported that everything went exceptionally well with the birth of the cub following an artificial insemination. 6-year-old mother Hao Hao gave birth to a male cub at the Pairi Daiza Wildlife Park, just outside of Brussels. Weighing a teenie 6 ounces, Hao Hao scooped up the little cutie, cleaned him off and held him close, according to zoo staff. What a miracle and privilege to see something so special and rare, especially as the giant panda is considered at risk of extinction.

To help boost the dwindling populations of giant pandas, breeding centres and zoos around the world keep more than 300 of the species in captivity to try to increase reproduction so we don’t lose these beautiful animals for good. Most of these centres are in China so having a cub born in Belgian is also hot topic as Austria and Spain are the only other European countries in the past 20 years to have nurtured their pandas to mate: perhaps a large part of this is down to climate and being able to recreate a truer environment. As such, "the (new baby) panda is a true miracle," said by zoo officials themselves in a joint statement with the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda.

Speaking on behalf of the Belgian zoo, Domb said in a following statement: ”Even though we are incredibly happy, we must not forget that mortality rate amongst giant panda cubs is high in the first life year”. Furthermore, “we strongly believe that Hao Hao has all she needs to be a wonderful mother and we will do everything possible to ensure the survival of the cubs and give Hao Hao the best care."

In order to create a fantastic new habitat for the cub and his mother, the zoo has already begun making structural adaptations to provide a new living space, whilst two Chinese experts from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda have been welcomed on site to provide around-the-clock care and expert advice.

This is a really lovely story that showcases some of the excellent work our zoos do, contrary to popular belief that many act only as huge money-making schemes. If it wasn’t for the Beligan zoo’s hard work, determination and passion, we would be one step closer to extinction of the giant panda, and that would be a tragedy. We must embrace and recognise the work our zoos undertake, whilst enabling our children an opportunity to see and learn about animals from all areas of the world.