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Zoo: Liver problem to blame for panda cub death

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012

The birth was a surprise because it hadn't been clear whether Mei Xiang was still fertile.

On Wednesday, animal keepers cleared out the bamboo nest she had built after she stopped sleeping in the den.

"She didn't seem to miss it, wasn't upset that it was gone," said panda keeper Marty Dearie.

Mei Xiang's appetite is slowly returning to normal. She stopped eating and stayed in her den for nearly a month to give birth and care for the cub. Now she's eating about 80 percent of her bamboo, fruits, vegetables and biscuits. She's still about 20 pounds under her normal weight of 240.

Despite the death, the pandas still draw many visitors.

Brian and Robin Ballard of Hopkins, Mich., followed news of the recent birth and came to see giant pandas for the first time Thursday.

"It's great to finally see them," said Brian Ballard, a teacher who used to work in a zoo. He remembers the first panda couple sent to Washington in 1972 as a gift to the U.S. after President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China.

"The cultural exchange that took place then, even by today's standards, I think is huge," Ballard said.


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