Giant Panda Mom: Playing Favorites, Fatally?
She's a "bad" mom because ...
panda mothers sometimes have two babies--but they rarely raise more than one.
"Pandas have good press, but they [can be] bad moms," Forbes said. Pandas' second offspring, helpless and about the size of a stick of butter, are typically left to their fate in the wild.
Give Mom a break, because ...
As the "favored" offspring gets bigger, he or she takes a lot of attention and eats a lot of bamboo. Mothers probably wouldn't be able to provide for two offspring during the eight to nine months until they are fully weaned, Forbes said.
"One robust offspring is probably better than two weak ones later on," he said, "so the quality control occurs early on when it's cheapbefore you've invested lots of resources."
Photograph by Michael Nichols