The Smithsonian National Zoo's female giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub Friday evening at 5:32 p.m., according to the zoo.
"The panda team heard the cub vocalize and glimpsed the cub for the first time briefly immediately after the birth. Mei Xiang picked the cub up immediately and began cradling and caring for it," according to a post on the zoo's panda page.
“I’m glued to the new panda cams and thrilled to hear the squeals, which appear healthy, of our newborn cub,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in a statement.
Mei Xiang went into labor late Friday afternoon, which the Zoo announced in a tweet sent around 4:15 p.m. Friday:
"Watch the panda cams now! Mei's water broke a short time ago and she's having contractions. She may give birth in a few hours #cubwatch."
She was artificially inseminated twice on March 30 after unsuccessful natural breeding with Tian Tian, the zoo's male panda. Volunteer behavior watchers have been monitoring Mei Xiang 24 hours a day since Aug. 7.
She has given birth to two cubs, only one of which lived. Her surviving cub, Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and now lives in the Bifengxia Panda Base in China. Last fall she gave birth to a second cub that died a short week later.