The panda twins born yesterday at the National Zoo are only the third set of panda twins to be born in the US. In 1987 the National Zoo had the first set of panda twins but both died within days. Much more is now known about the care of panda cubs. Then only 20% of the panda cubs survived. Now more than 80% of cubs born in the US survive.
In the wild when pandas have twins the mother typically lets one die and focuses on the other. When the second cub was born yesterday zoo officials took the cub and put in an incubator. Every few hours they swap the cubs, removing one from the mother and replacing it with the cub from the incubator. So far the mother panda is letting them swap the infants and she nurtures each one in turn. This technique worked with the second set of panda twins born in Atlanta two years ago.