ATLANTA – The only panda born at a U.S. zoo so far this year was placed in an incubator on Monday for closer monitoring by zookeepers after visitors flocked to watch mother and child on a live video feed at Zoo Atlanta.
Zoo officials said in a release they wanted to more closely watch the tiny, hairless cub — which is the size of a stick of butter — based on the behavior of the cub and its mother, Lun Lun, in the zoo's birthing den.
Zoo spokeswoman Simone Griffin wasn't able to provide further information about the situation but said the video feed has been suspended.
The panda cub, the gender of which hasn't yet been determined, was born Saturday, just a week before the second birthday of Mei Lan, the zoo's first panda cub.
"You can go to every zoo and see elephants, but you can't go to every zoo and see pandas," said Christy Moonan, whose two children, Mia, 3, and Collin, 5, brought small stuffed panda toys with them to watch the cub on television screens in the zoo's panda habitat.
Three other U.S. zoos house pandas, which are endangered: San Diego, Memphis and Washington, D.C.
Mei Lan and dad, Yang Yang, napped in separate rooms of the indoor part of the panda habitat on Monday.
Zoo officials will keep Yang Yang apart from his new cub as they have with Mei Lan, because male pandas in the wild typically don't stay with their offspring.
Zoo officials inseminated Lun Lun with Yang Yang's sperm in April. An ultrasound on Thursday confirmed zookeepers' suspicions that the procedure was a success.
"A lot of people wonder whether this is less exciting for us because it's our second birth," Wilson said. "Every giant panda birth is important. We are just as excited about this birth as Mei Lan's."
Mei Lan's birth was a landmark event for the zoo, drawing in thousands of visitors and generating a huge number of hits on the online panda cam.
Weekend attendance figures weren't yet available Monday, but zoo officials said they're expecting them to be higher than normal because of the new arrival.