Berlin Zoo: First German-born pandas ′thriving′ | News | DW | 14.09.2019
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Berlin Zoo: First German-born pandas 'thriving'

The panda twins born two weeks ago are showing first signs of how they'll look once they mature. Berlin Zoo has played down a newspaper poll suggesting they be named "Hong" and "Kong" in solidarity with protests there.

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Berlin Zoo: First German-born pandas 'thriving'

The first giant pandas to be born in Germany are slowly growing their first black and white fur, Berlin Zoo said on Friday.

The zoo released new video footage of the two cubs, born at the end of August to Meng Meng following a 147-day gestation period.

The pair looked somewhat like bubblegum covered in lint after their birth, but "from the gradual black-and-white coloring you can see they're starting to look like mama," zoo director Andreas Knieriem said on Friday.

The cubs have more than doubled their weight and now weigh 431 and 343 grams (15.2 and 12.1 ounces). 

When not in their incubators, the cubs spend time with their mother, buried deep in her thick, warm coat.

Read more: Panda bears: Not as mysterious as we once thought

The pair of baby pandas shortly after birth (picture-alliance/dpa/Zoo Berlin/Zoologischer Garten Berlin)

The panda babies, seen here shortly after birth, are gradually changing their appearance

Feeding from mother

Initially, zookeepers helped them gain weight by feeding them bottles of milk pumped from their mother, but the zoo says they're now fine feeding all on their own.

The cubs aren't yet named. The zoo has distanced itself from a Berlin newspaper poll suggesting the names "Hong" and "Kong" in solidarity with protests there.

As pandas with twins usually raise only one of the cubs, the zoo is actively supporting Meng Meng in the rearing process and has enlisted experts from China's Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo to help.

It is notoriously difficult to get giant pandas to mate, and with fewer than 2,000 adults living in their natural habitat, every new cub is an important contribution to the conservation of the species.

mm/tj (AP, EBU, Reuters)

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