Formula is a vital part of raising Panda cubs in captivity to ensure the survival of the species. A female panda is only able to care for a single cub when they are first born, yet they often give birth to twins. In the wild, when this happens, one of the cubs will perish. In captivity, thanks to dedicated keepers, incubators, and formula – both cubs are able to survive. In a process named “cub-swapping”, both cubs spend alternating time with their mother nursing and in the nursury where their diet is supplemented with formula.
Another case when formula is needed is when a cub (or cubs) are born to mothers who haven’t quite mastered the proper skills to care for them. In these cases, the cub will also be hand raised by humans. As a side note, CCRCGP has begun a program of Foster Mothering so that all cubs get time with a “panda mama”.
As the cubs grow, so does the need for more formula!
While PI staff were in China last November, we were able to watch and photograph the formula being prepared for the older cubs. The process is very controlled and it was clear to see how vital PI donations of formula are given the quantities that the cubs consume at each feeding.
Each serving is measured precisely to ensure that the cubs are getting both the proper nutrients and a healthy serving size for their developmental needs.