Lung and liver problems caused the death of the Smithsonian National Zoo’s 6-day-old panda cub, zoo officials announced on Oct. 11 in a press conference.
A necropsy revealed the cub’s liver failed to receive enough oxygen due to its underdeveloped lungs, NBC reported. Although Suzan Murray, the zoo’s head veterinarian, had initially described the cub, thought to be a female, to NBC as “just beautiful” after its birth on Sept. 16, it shockingly died less than one week later.
A preliminary autopsy after its death on Sept. 23 found she had liver abnormalities, including discoloration, and fluid in her abdomen.
“The liver — by palpation, by touching — felt a little bit hard in places, and it also appeared abnormal,” Murray told NBC. “Typically, livers have a very uniform color.”
Murray explained that the lack of oxygen in the cub’s liver, spurred by its underdeveloped lungs, had led to the death of liver cells.
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