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Giant Pandas Giant Pandas
Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management
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13 - The neonatal giant panda: hand-rearing and medical management

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2009

Mark S. Edwards
Affiliation:
San Diego Zoo, Zoological Society of San Diego
Rongping Wei
Affiliation:
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
Janet Hawes
Affiliation:
San Diego Zoo, Zoological Society of San Diego
Meg Sutherland-Smith
Affiliation:
San Diego Zoo, Zoological Society of San Diego
Chunxiang Tang
Affiliation:
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
Desheng Li
Affiliation:
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
Daming Hu
Affiliation:
China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda
Guiquan Zhang
Affiliation:
China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda
David E. Wildt
Affiliation:
Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC
Anju Zhang
Affiliation:
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Hemin Zhang
Affiliation:
Wildlife Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas
Donald L. Janssen
Affiliation:
Zoological Society of San Diego
Susie Ellis
Affiliation:
Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

Among eutherians, ursids have a significant disparity between maternal weight and neonatal weight (Leitch et al., 1959). The giant panda also produces a smaller litter mass relative to maternal body mass than, for example, the American black bear (Oftedal & Gittleman, 1989; Ramsay & Dunbrack, 1996; Zhu et al., 2001). The giant panda neonate is particularly altricial (i.e. highly dependent on parental care), requiring 24-hour care during the first weeks of life. This chapter deals with the issues and intricacies associated with the newborn giant panda cub, including hand-rearing and medical management.

NEONATAL CARE AND HAND-REARING: METHODS, RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Indications for hand-rearing

Although maternal care is always preferred for the giant panda cub, there are situations when human care-giving is mandatory. The most obvious is maternal abandonment, which usually becomes apparent within the first five to ten minutes of birth. A female that abandons her cub will typically leave it on the ground and move away, showing little or no interest. Intervention is also required when the dam holds the cub improperly (malpositioning). Such a cub can neither nurse nor rest, often moves about excessively (in an attempt to achieve proper positioning on its own) and then can fall to the ground. A third complication is the common production of two or more cubs (mean litter size is 1.7; range 1–3) (Schaller et al., 1985).

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Giant Pandas
Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management
, pp. 315 - 333
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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References

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