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National Zoo says smaller of twin panda cubs has died (w/video)

'A hard loss for us'

Smaller of twin panda cubs dies at national zoo

Jubilation over the birth of panda twins at Washington's National Zoo turned to sadness Wednesday as the smaller of the cubs died after three and a half days.

The zoo's 17-year-old panda Mei Xiang gave birth to the first cub Saturday at 5:35 p.m. and a second cub about five hours later. The zoo said the remaining cub appears to be robust and behaving normally.

The zoo said it would perform a necropsy, the equivalent of a human autopsy, to determine the cause of the cub's death.

"This is a hard loss for us," zoo director Dennis Kelly said. But Kelly said "every birth is a success" when you are dealing with an endangered species.

Caretakers had been concerned about the smaller cub's fluctuating weight. Animal keepers were feeding the cub using both a bottle and a tube.

Neither cub had yet been given a name.

Mei Xiang has two other surviving offspring.

The National Zoo is one of only four zoos nationwide to have pandas, which are on loan from China.

Associated Press