WASHINGTON — The 6-day-old giant panda cub that died at the National Zoo on Sunday had liver abnormalities and fluid in its abdomen, but zoo officials said Monday that they don't yet know the cause of death.
The cub, believed to be a female, died less than a week after its birth surprised zoo officials and thrilled visitors. The zoo had all but given up on the panda mother's chances of conceiving.
A necropsy will be completed within two weeks, and officials expect to have a definitive answer on the cause of death. Panda cubs are about the size of a stick of butter at birth and are susceptible to infections and fatal injuries.
There was no evidence of fluid in the cub's lungs, which would suggest pneumonia, and the cub was not accidentally crushed by its mother, which has happened to others born in captivity. On any given day in the first two weeks of life, pandas born in captivity have a mortality rate of about 18 percent, zoo officials said. Their mortality rate in the wild is unknown.
Only a few thousand giant pandas are believed to remain in the wild. Only a few hundred are in captivity.