Zookeepers found the cub dead Sunday morning, reports the Washington Post, upon hearing "distressed vocalizations" from mother Mei Xiang.
"This is not right, this is not good," the keepers thought, according to the Washington, D.C., zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson, and the zoo's staff realized they were no longer hearing the offspring's squealing. Using cushioned grabbers, they removed the cub from the den and tried to perform CPR. Mei Xiang's little one could not be revived.
The cub's arrival came with a wave of optimism last Sunday, when the zoo's chief veterinarian Suzan Murray described Mei Xiang as "the poster child for a perfect panda mom." Fans kept close watch on a camera feed in hopes of catching a glimpse at the newborn, who was estimated to weigh just a few ounces.
For Mei Xiang, the birth came on the heels of encouraging speculation that she was expecting; it was her first offspring since she welcomed son Tai Shan in 2005, and zookeepers kept a watchful eye on the cub because of the hot weather. (Mei Xiang was also moving the cub around their outdoor exhibit instead of staying in a nest box, which was expected, the zoo told the Washington Post.)
The cub's death is a heartbreak the zoo has felt before. Just two years ago, a newborn red panda died at the zoo.