Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - From joy to sorrow: Baby panda dies just one week after birth

The death of a giant panda cub one week after its birth has left staff at Smithsonian National Zoo “broken-hearted”.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 24 September

From joy to sorrow: Baby panda dies just one week after birth

The death of a giant panda cub one week after its birth has left staff at Smithsonian National Zoo “broken-hearted”.

Panda keepers and volunteers at the Washington DC zoo heard the cub’s mother Mai Xiang crying in distress, and worked quickly to remove the lifeless cub. Veterinarians were alerted immediately but, despite performing CPR and other life-saving measures, were unable to save the cub. There were no reported signs of trauma or infection.

In a previous update on the zoo’s website, staff said the cub was in good health - actively squirming and vocalising loudly. They reported Mei Xiang was showing “excellent maternal behaviours” and staff were “minimising disturbance” to the mother and cub, and monitoring them regularly.

The zoo released a statement announcing the death, and said that staff were “broken-hearted to share that we have lost our little giant panda cub”.

They added that there were no reported signs of trauma or infection to the cub. Preliminary results of a necropsy performed on the cub are expected later today.

Nearly a quarter of the zoo’s animals are endangered species. Experts at the National Zoo estimate that as few as 1,600 giant pandas live in the wild in their natural habitat of China.

The zoo recently received a $400,000 (£246,705) pledge from the Ford Motor Company Fund to study the health of giant pandas over the next two years.

Questions for discussion

For primary:

  • What do you know about pandas? With a partner write down as many things as you can.
  • How do you think animals become endangered?

For secondary:

  • How far is animal extinction caused by humans?
  • Is taking animals out of the wild and keeping them in zoos cruel or kind? Be prepared to explain your answer.

Related resources

A day for the endangered

  • Encourage pupils to think about pandas, tigers and other endangered species with this research lesson.

Class of conservationist

  • Get pupils to design a conservation plan and help save a species from extinction.

Panda planet

  • This WWF resource focuses on pandas – their habitats, why they’re endangered and how we can help.

Should we save the pandas?

  • Quotes to help you structure a classroom debate – is it our place to save endangered animals?

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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Half of teachers believe the government’s decision to scrap the existing ICT curriculum will lead to job cuts, according to a survey released this week.

Racism remains a ‘significant problem’ in British football, a parliamentary report has found.

Digital piracy is costing the UK retail market nearly half a billion pounds in lost income, according to a new report.

In the news archive index