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First Giant Panda Cubs Born in Canada
Historic Moment for Toronto Zoo

Photo credit: Toronto Zoo

Photo credit: Toronto Zoo

Toronto, ON, Tuesday, October 13, 2015: The Toronto Zoo announced a Canadian first today with the birth of two giant panda cubs.  Er Shun, the Zoo’s female giant panda, gave birth to her first cub at 3:31 a.m. and the second cub was born at 3:44 a.m. 

Er Shun is demonstrating excellent maternal instincts and began cleaning and cradling the first cub soon after its birth. Immediately following the birth of the second cub, Toronto Zoo staff from the Wildlife Health Centre, Wildlife Care and two giant panda experts from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, retrieved the cub to initiate the Toronto Zoo's Giant Panda Twin Hand-Rearing Protocol. The cub was then placed in an incubator in the maternity area of the giant panda house, and approximately two hours after its birth the second cub was twin-swapped so it could begin the bonding process with Er Shun. The first cub weighed 181.7 grams at birth and the second cub weighed 115 grams. While this is wonderful news, the tiny cubs are very vulnerable at this size, so the next several hours and days will be critical to their survival.   

The cubs will remain in the maternity area of the giant panda house for several months. As the maternity area of the giant panda house is not visible to the public, Toronto Zoo staff will endeavor to provide regular updates on their progress.

At this time Zoo staff do not know the sex of the cubs and have not confirmed which panda is the father. It may be several months before we are able to determine the sex and paternity of the cubs.

“We are so proud to be contributing to the ongoing survival of this endangered species. The Toronto Zoo has been a leader through its unique and successful reproductive programs and these historical births are a testament to the commitment and passion of theprofessionalstaff who work tirelessly every day to ensure the ongoing survival of so many species,” said John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo.

“On behalf of the Toronto Zoo Board of Management we are proud of all staff at the Zoo who have helped bring this vision to a reality,” said Councillor Raymond Cho, Chair. "Our researchers, veterinarians, and wildlife care staff are some of the best in the world, and we are grateful to the People’s Republic of China for entrusting these endangered animals to us. We look forward to sharing our learnings with scientists around the world in the hope this will help us save this endangered species," he added.

Giant panda cubs are born blind and weigh only 0.08 to 0.2 kilograms, and are about the size of a stick of butter. They are pink in colour, with short sparse white hair, and are 1/900th the size of their mother, one of the smallest newborn mammals relative to its mother’s size.

The Toronto Zoo has been working with many key partners who have played such important roles in this conservation success story and we are grateful for their continued support. 

Currently on loan as part of a long-term conservation breeding program, both giant pandas are at the Toronto Zoo until 2018. The giant pandas will relocate to the Calgary Zoo in 2018.  

Media Information:

Please note, media are not permitted in the maternity area of the Giant Panda Exhibit. Toronto Zoo staff will provide updates, photos and video as they become available.

Toronto Zoo Media Contacts:

Jennifer Tracey, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Partnerships

jtracey@torontozoo.ca or #416-669-7074

Cynthia Shipley, Manager of Public Relations and Events

cshipley@torontozoo.ca or #416-258-1760

Amanda Chambers, Supervisor of Public Relations and Events

achambers@torontozoo.caor #647-625-4369.

Please CLICK HERE for more information on Giant Panda Conservation at the Toronto Zoo.

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