WASHINGTON — Liver failure caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen caused the death of the giant panda cub last month at the National Zoo, officials said Thursday.
Chief veterinarian Suzan Murray said a necropsy showed the tiny cub’s lungs were not fully formed.
That impeded the flow of oxygen, leading to liver necrosis, or the death of liver cells.
Murray said it was possible the cub had been born prematurely, but it is difficult to determine exactly when the embryo was formed.
The animal’s birth Sept. 16 came as something of a surprise, because a pregnancy had not been confirmed.
Since the death Sept. 23, the cub’s mother, Mei Xiang, has nearly resumed her normal diet of bamboo, fruits, vegetables and biscuits, said Don Moore, associate director of animal care at the National Zoo.
Moore described her behavior as “almost normal."