In a statement made on Tuesday, Animal advocate group, PETA decried the decision made by National Zoo to split up the newborn panda cubs, and only allow one cub to be in the mother’s presence at a time.
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk called the decision a “public-relations fiasco,” according to USA Today. The organization later made a strong statement about the future of the panda cubs.
“Studies show that captive giant panda cubs subjected to early removal from their mothers experience problems with behavioral development from a lack of mother-infant social stimulation,” she said in a statement. “Removing babies as if they’re nothing more than future exhibits to be preserved and treating the mother panda as simply a baby-making machine while disrespecting and disregarding her maternal instincts as well as fighting with her to remove her infants in the name of ‘animal science’ is unethical, unthinkable and wrong,” PETA says.
The panda cubs, born Saturday, after being artificially inseminated back in April. The zoo made its intentions clear to rotate the cubs due to the fact that pandas typically only care for one cub at a time. The plan was to have the cubs switch between contact with their mother, and an incubated space, at four hour intervals.
However, the mother Mei Xiang, has had the larger of the two cubs in her possession since Monday afternoon, making the rotation unsuccessful. The smaller cub has raised a few health concerns, such as weight fluctuation and regurgitation, but is being kept on a regimen of antibiotics to keep it safe and healthy.
The twin cubs are the third and fourth living offspring of Mei Xiang.