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Baby Panda's Cause of Death To Be Revealed By National Zoo On Thursday

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PANDACAM MEI XIANG BABY
Mei Xiang seen cuddling her panda cub. | National Zoo/Pandacam

WASHINGTON — Washington's National Zoo is set to reveal what caused the death of a 6-day-old giant panda cub.

The zoo will disclose the cause at a news conference Thursday morning.

The cub, believed to be female, was born Sept. 16. Zoo officials and panda fans around the world were devastated by its death less than a week later. The birth was a surprise because it hadn't been clear whether the mother, 14-year-old Mei Xiang, was still fertile.

Panda cubs are born hairless and helpless, about the size of a stick of butter. The mortality rate for females born in captivity is 20 percent in the first year.

A preliminary necropsy revealed that the cub had liver abnormalities and fluid in its abdomen. Zoo officials will disclose the final results on Thursday.

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