Surprise! Panda Actually Gave Birth to Twins Mei Xiang pulls a fast one on the National Zoo By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Aug 23, 2015 8:44 AM CDT 17 comments Comments In this 2011 file photo, Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, eats breakfast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (Newser) – The National Zoo's blessed event yesterday has multiplied by two, with the unexpected addition of a second panda cub, reports the Washington Post. Zoo officials were still celebrating the birth of Mei Xiang's first cub yesterday at 5:34pm—with a rep crowing that the zoo was "thrilled, absolutely thrilled"—when she gave birth to a second at 10:07pm. Both cubs are believed to be healthy. One was put in an incubator and the two will be swapped between incubator and mom, in what the Post calls a special protocol for raising panda twins. Twins occur in about half of panda births; Mei Xiang gave birth to Bao Bao and a stillborn twin in 2013. More on the incredibly tricky process of breeding pandas is here.