The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., announced a small bundle of good news Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mei Xiang, the 22-year-old giant panda, gave birth to the cub on Friday at 6:35 p.m., according to the National Zoo.
“A precious giant panda cub has arrived! We’re overjoyed to share that Mei Xiang gave birth at 6:35 p.m. and is caring for her newborn attentively,” the zoo tweeted after the birth, which was streamed live. “Positive mothering behaviors include nursing her cub and cuddling it close.”
Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated March 22 with semen collected from male panda Tian Tian and she exhibited behaviors consistent with pregnancy — sleeping and nesting — in late July.
The cub is the seventh for the panda, though only three previously have lived to adulthood. All have been fathered by Tian Tian.
“Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and with the birth of this precious cub we are thrilled to offer the world a much-needed moment of pure joy,” Steve Monfort, the John and Adrienne Mars director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement. “Because Mei Xiang is of advanced maternal age, we knew the chances of her having a cub were slim. However, we wanted to give her one more opportunity to contribute to her species’ survival.”
“I am incredibly proud of our animal care and science teams, whose expertise in giant panda behavior was critical to this conservation success,” he added.
She most recently gave birth on Aug. 22, 2015, to Bei Bei, named by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuang.
Bei Bei was transferred to a zoo in Chengdu, China, last November.
One week ago, the zoo spoke about the upcoming arrival and the attention it would draw to the animals.
“Theres no denying that a giant panda is a charismatic animal, this is a huge success story,” zoo spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson told ABC News. “We have millions of people watching our panda cam program every year around the world.”
Mei Xiang was born at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in July 1998.
Pandas, which are native to China, are classified as a “vulnerable” species in the wild, an upgrade from its previous status as “endangered.”
ABC News’ Olivia Eubanks contributed to this report.