53.4 ± 10.5 (n =


a Zhang et al., 1996; b Zhu et al., 2001; c Edwards, unpublished data; d Days 28 to 52.

a Zhang et al., 1996; b Zhu et al., 2001; c Edwards, unpublished data; d Days 28 to 52.

as these cubs are often supplementally fed by human care-givers. Rates of growth published in the literature (Zhang et al, 1996), as well as preliminary data on two giant panda cubs that were entirely mother-reared (i.e. no supplementation), (Edwards unpublished data) are provided in Table 13.7.


The rectal temperature range for the giant panda cub regardless of age is 38 to 39°C (100.5 to 102.5°F), with an average external temperature of 37°C (range 36.0 to 37.5°C). The ability of the giant panda neonate to thermoregulate is minimal and variable at birth, but increases with age. Taking at least one daily body temperature is an effective means of monitoring a cub's status. Although a rectal measure is the most reliable index of core body temperature, this method poses some risk to the neonate. A specialised thermometer with a thin, flexible probe is required (e.g. Mon-a-Therm Temperature System Model 4070 with a size 8 or 9 flexible French probe; Mallinckrodt, Inc., St Louis, MO). The probe tip should be lubricated with medical-grade, sterile lubricant and inserted carefully to reduce irritation and avoid mechanical injury. An alternative method of monitoring body temperature is taking a reading from the external surface from the animal using a standard or laser thermometer. Regardless of the type of method, the location of taking the measure and the duration should be recorded to allow relative comparisons over time. Daily temperature monitoring should continue beyond the time that the cub is removed from the incubator (at 50 days) and up to about 100 days when it leaves the nursery. Illness, of course, may suggest more frequent temperature assessments.


Urine and faecal characteristics are important indicators of an individual's health or response to a particular supportive care approach. In particular, the appearance of these 'end-products' is essential for identifying an animal that may be entering, or already in, a marginal status.

Table 13.8 Progressive changes in faecal consistency typical of giant panda cubs from day of birth (Day 0)


21 to 45

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