WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Mei Xiang's cub, who turned a week old on Friday, "seems strong," according to giant panda keeper Marty Dearie with the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
"We were encouraged to see the cub holding up its head and using its legs to lift its body off the floor slightly," Dearie wrote in a daily update. "These are all good signs, and Mei Xiang's cub seems strong."
The keeper also noted the cub's black eye patches are "starting to come in."
"The bigger the cub gets, the more distinct its markings get," he continued, adding that "less obvious - but still visible - are the black leg patches and saddle."
Mei Xiang has started leaving her den to drink, a positive sign that the cub can stay warm on its own for short periods.
Newborn giant pandas rely on their mothers for warmth, since they have little fur and cannot regulate their own body temperature. During the first few days of a cub's life, a mother giant panda forgoes eating and drinking to stay with her offspring.
The zoo's giant panda team has not been able to conduct an exam of the cub, which would allow scientists to analyze its DNA and determine its sex.
Mei Xiang, 22, gave birth to the cub on Aug. 21, the seventh since she and male giant panda Tian Tian began living in the zoo in 2000. Three of her cubs have survived to adulthood.
The female giant panda was artificially inseminated in March this year with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian. Veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on an ultrasound earlier this month.
Part of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution, the national zoo, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., has a decades-long partnership with Chinese scientists and curators on conserving giant pandas.