September 1–Special Day for the Panda World
Date: 2018-10-08

Those who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games must still remember Li Xiaoshuang, the Olympic all-round gymnastics champion very well. In the same year, while Olympic athletes competed for national glory, Chengdu's “panda world” also worked hard on the path of panda breeding. It was expected that if a panda cub was born in 1996, it would be named “Xiao Shuang” to remember the national sports hero.



No one expected it would be a year after, “Qing Qing”, the Chengdu's heroic panda mother, gave birth to twins on September 1, 1997. It was the fourth twins of “Qing Qing” , and also boy and girl twins, named “Da Shuang” and “Xiao Shuang” as promised. “Da Shuang” is the elder sister, and “Xiao Shuang” is the younger brother. (Li Xiaoshuang also has a elder brother named Li Dashuang who is also a famous gymnast.)


From then on, that family of “Qing Qing”, or the “Olympic family” of the pandas, has two more “gymnasts”.


It is exactly 20 years from September 1, 1997 to September 1, 2017. “Da Shuang” and “Xiao Shuang” are already 20 years old.


“Da Shuang” ate the bamboo shoots on a hot day. She is healthy and lives in the Moonlight Delivery House of Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.


“Xiao Shuang” was happily running in Fuhou Zoo. He is also very healthy.


They are lucky twins. In the wild, giant panda mom's energy is limited. If giving birth to twins, they often abandoned the weaker one to ensure survival of the stronger one, which is the evolution rule in the harsh natural environment.


In captivity, giant pandas inherit the “selection” gene, so few mothers would bear two cubs at the same time. In that era, experts at the Chengdu Zoo and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding worked tirelessly, and then developed the technique of “exchanging cubs for breeding” to ensure that twins could survive together. It is the advancement in this technique that has allowed captive twins to survive, prompting the success of captive panda breeding and ushering the later “year of twins” (a year when most newborn babies are twins).


According to the records of pandas that helping breed cubs, as a “foster mother”, Da Shuang has raised at least 15 non-biological children for other panda mothers and is a very qualified “foster mother”.


“Da Shuang” defies old age, taking care of panda babies still as good as at a younger age now.
(the picture shows “Da Shuang” breastfeeds “Mei Lan” and “Wen Wen” who were born in 2016.)


Even from the side view, “Da Shuang” is still a beauty in the panda world.


“Da Shuang”, who took a stroll in the early morning on her birthday on September 1, still has a beautiful shaggy face.




( Da Shuang lying down three times in a row this morning)
Although it's my birthday, don't disturb my sleep. Go away, my favorite is resting.


Here again I wish that this old twin brother and sister will continue to live a long and healthy life and keep the record of “the oldest twins” among the captive giant pandas in Chengdu.






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