National Zoo’s New Panda Cub Gets First Checkup

November 4, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. cub [kuhb] (n.) – the offspring or baby of a carnivorous animal, such as a bear, lion, or fox
Example: The lion teaches its cub how to hunt for food.

2. examine [ig-ZAM-in] (v.) – to look or check carefully
Example: The doctor carefully examined the patient for possible diseases.

3. overprotective [oh-ver-pruh-TEK-tiv] (adj.) – being excessively protective of someone or something
Example: A mother has a tendency to be overprotective of her children.

4. patch [pach] (n.) – a small part that is different from the other parts
Example: Pandas have black and white patches all over their body.

5. habitat [HAB-i-tat] (n.) – a type of environment where an organism or a group lives normally
Example: The zoo employees closed the panda’s habitat to give the panda a quiet place to live in.


Read the text below.
The National Zoo's newborn panda cub has undergone a 20-minute veterinary checkup for the first time last September.

Born on August 23, the yet-to-be-named female cub has been finally examined after the veterinarians waited for three and a half weeks. The veterinarians quickly took the chance when Mei Xiang [may-SHONG] finally put the cub down and left the den to eat some bamboo and drink some water in another area.

Mei Xiang, the mother of the baby panda, has become overprotective of the cub and has not allowed humans to go near it. Known as a great mother, Mei Xiang spent most of the time cradling and cuddling her little cub.

After the checkup, the veterinarians found that the panda cub has grown a lot ever since it was born. It now weighs a little less than two pounds. It also measures 10.6 inches long from nose to tail and 9.8 inches wide around its belly. Despite these developments, its eyes have not opened yet.

Nonetheless, the cub’s growth and development is still amazing, said Brandie Smith, the zoo’s senior curator of mammals and giant pandas.

According to the report, the cub’s black patches around the ears, eyes and back are now showing. It is also expected to grow as large as Mei Xiang, who weighs about 233 pounds.

On another note, the habitat of the pandas in the National Zoo has been and will remain closed to give Mei Xiang and her cub a more peaceful environment. But, people who wish to see the pandas can do so through the zoo’s panda cam, which can be accessed on the Internet.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, why do mother animals tend to be overprotective of their offspring?
·         Why do you think the zoo temporarily banned people from visiting the pandas’ habitat?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think physical tests and examinations are important to animals?
·         How can humans help protect endangered species like pandas?


November 4, 2013