Newly-born panda dies suddenly at D.C. National Zoo

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — A giant panda cub born a week ago at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo has died, the zoo said Sunday.

There were no outward signs of trauma or infection and it was not immediately clear what caused the cub’s death, the zoo said.

“We are brokenhearted to share that we have lost our little giant panda cub,” a post on the zoo’s panda habitat website said.

Veterinarians examined the cub Sunday morning after zookeepers and volunteers heard a “distress vocalization” from the cub’s mother, 14-year-old giant panda Mei Xiang. The cub did not respond to CPR and other life-saving measures, the zoo said.

“This is devastating for all of us here, “Dennis Kelly, Director of the National Zoo said. “It’s hard to describe how much passion and energy and thought and care has gone into this.”

“We’ve got a terrific team that works so hard and I’m so confident, so proud of the staff, the volunteers, the scientists, the work that our Chinese colleagues have put into this,” Kelly continued. “It is devastating and it’s going to take us time.”

The cub, which the zoo had not yet named, was Mei Xiang’s second in seven years with 15-year-old Tian Tian, the zoo’s male giant panda.

In July, a week-old giant panda cub died at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo after its mother’s milk accidentally entered its airway, officials said.

The giant panda is one of the most endangered species in the world. There are estimated to be only 1,900 still in existence.

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