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Zoo Officials to Reveal Cause of Panda Cub’s Death

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Dennis W. Kelly (L), Director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo, and Suzan Murray (R), chief veterinarian of Smithsonian's National Zoo talk about the sudden death of a baby panda cub during a press conference at the National Zoo on September 23, 2012.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Dennis W. Kelly (L), Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, and Suzan Murray (R), chief veterinarian of Smithsonian’s National Zoo talk about the sudden death of a baby panda cub during a press conference at the National Zoo on September 23, 2012. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON — The National Zoo is set to reveal what killed a 6-day-old giant panda cub.

The zoo will disclose the cause of death at a news conference Thursday morning.

The cub, believed to be female, was born Sept. 16. Zoo officials and panda fans around the world were devastated by its death less than a week later. The birth was a surprise because it hadn’t been clear whether the mother, 14-year-old Mei Xiang, was still fertile.

Panda cubs are born hairless and helpless, about the size of a stick of butter. The mortality rate for females born in captivity is 20 percent in the first year.

A preliminary necropsy revealed that the cub had liver abnormalities and fluid in its abdomen. Zoo officials will disclose the final necropsy results on Thursday.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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