100 to 120

Meconium, appears brown/black and dry; in small bead-like shapes; green/yellow stools produced from colostrum, also with dry, bead-like shapes Blue/yellow with mucus (colostrum origin) Blue/yellow (colostrum) or brown/yellow with mucus, bead-like or tubular Light yellow, tubular soft with mucus

Light yellow, bead-like, sometimes in a string or series, with mucus; floats on water; the middle of the bead is empty; sometimes a fermented odour Yellow, brown/yellow or deep yellow with mucus; shaped like a bead in either a separate bolus or together; not like a necklace; sometimes a fermented odour Brown/yellow in a tubular shape; dry with mucus Some cubs can pass faeces on their own; tubular shape, yellow and soft with mucus

High-moisture faeces are not typical for a panda cub nursing from the dam or a bottle. Faecal moisture content also appears to decline with age. A progressive change in faecal consistency typical of giant panda cubs up to 120 days of age is provided in Table 13.8.

Twin swapping

Facilities in China with extensive giant panda experience have developed a protocol that increases the survivability of litters with multiple cubs. Although a dam producing multiple offspring will normally care for only a single cub, it is possible with some females to rotate the cubs from the mother to the nursery (see Chapter 14). While one neonate is nursing, the other is maintained in an incubator and attended and supplemented by humans. This tactic obviously requires a serene dam that tolerates the switching of her cubs. The frequency of cub exchange is highly variable, and a function of the status of each individual, including the dam. This approach offers an enormous advantage to the cub in providing both maternal milk and social access, but requires a high level of monitoring and scrutiny of caretakers familiar with the species.


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