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National Zoo Panda Birth Spotlights Survival Challenges

The National Zoo’s female panda, Mei Xiang, gave birth on Friday.

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Mei Xiang, the National Zoo's giant panda, looks at her newborn cub on Friday.

A giant panda at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington gave birth to a cub Friday night, the latest chapter in a long saga of breeding attempts that has shown how very difficult it is for endangered giant pandas to reproduce.

The National Zoo's female panda, Mei Xiang, gave birth at 5:32 p.m. on Friday, then "picked up the cub and immediately began cradling and caring for it," the zoo said in a statement.

"Chief veterinarian Suzan Murray says that Mei Xiang & the cub appear to be doing well," the zoo said via Twitter.