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Toronto Zoo welcomes Canada's first giant panda cubs

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 14, 2015 in Environment
Toronto - At the Toronto Zoo, giants sometimes come in small packages.
The zoo is celebrating the birth of two such packages — tiny twin cubs born early Tuesday to Er Shun, one of two giant pandas on loan from China.
On Twitter, zoo staff tweeted that the cubs entered the world between 3 and 4 a.m. ET, and weighed a teeny-tiny 187.7 grams and 115 grams, CBC News reports.
These little guys are the first two giant panda cubs born in Canada.  They were born to Er Shun on O...
These little guys are the first two giant panda cubs born in Canada. They were born to Er Shun on Oct. 13, 2015.
Photo from Toronto Zoo.
The little tykes will remain in the maternity area of the zoo's giant panda house, which isn't open to the public. However zoo staff say they will try to keep the public updated on their progress.
The zoo announced that Er Shun was pregnant with twin cubs a couple of weeks back, noting the father could be any one of three pandas.
Staff noted that mom and cubs "appear to be doing well" and added that Er Shun was showing excellent maternal instincts, People reported.
These next several days are critical for the cubs, and staff are being understandably cautious, especially since the the Smithsonian's National Zoo lost one of its twin cubs only a few days after it was born.
At this time, the zoo can't confirm the sex of the newborns, noting it may be a few months before the sex and the paternity can be ascertained, People reports.
The cubs are about the size of a guinea pig and were conceived through artificial insemination, Reuters reports. Frozen sperm from two pandas living in China was used, as was sperm from Er Shun's zoo partner Da Mao. The sparsely-furred pink cubs will be "twin-swapped" between an incubator and mom so that they have time to bond with Er Shun.
As part of a long-term breeding program, Er Shun and Da Mao are on loan from China and will remain at the Toronto Zoo until 2018. After that, they will be relocated to the Calgary Zoo for five years.
While China's population of wild giant pandas is increasing, they are still considered endangered due to geographic isolation and human interference, Digital Journal reports.
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