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Zoo Vet: Panda Cub Died Of Liver Problem

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One of the National Zoo's giant pandas sits in the sun October 11. Zoo officials have released the cause of death of a 6-day-old giant panda cub that died last month.
Armando Trull
One of the National Zoo's giant pandas sits in the sun October 11. Zoo officials have released the cause of death of a 6-day-old giant panda cub that died last month.

A liver problem was to blame for the death last month of a 6-day-old giant panda cub at the National Zoo, according to zoo officials. 

The cub's cause of death was liver necrosis, or the death of liver cells, chief veterinarian Dr. Suzan Murray told a news conference Thursday. The cub's lungs were also underdeveloped and likely didn't provide enough oxygen to the liver, Murray added.

The zoo also offered a public view of the cub's mother, Mei Xiang, in her yard Thursday. Her behavior has slowly returned to normal after the cub's death. Before a crowd of excited schoolchildren on Thursday, she suns herself on a boulder. She's been leaving her bambo enclosure more frequently and her eating habits are back to normal.

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

The cub's death will initiatite discussions between Smithsonian and Chinese officials over whether one or both of the pandas will be returned to China and swapped for other pandas.

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