At a zoo in northern China, a female red panda gave birth to two babies, zookeepers were thrilled -- and unprepared.
"No one knew she was pregnant. Her plump body and bushy hair disguised her protruding belly until the babies were born," a spokesperson for the Taiyuan Zoo in Shanxi Province reported.
The humiliation of "giving birth in its pen, in broad daylight and in front of a huge crowd of visitors," was apparently too much for the new mother, who had recently arrived from a nature reserve. "She abruptly turned her back on the babies and refused to nurse them," said the spokesperson.
Zookeepers scrambled to find a wet nurse for the pair of baby red pandas. They scoured the countryside and found three dogs who had recently given birth.
The mother dog chosen for the job belongs to a local farmer. She is a sweet-tempered, white Chihuahua-mix who had given birth to a puppy just three days before the red pandas were born.
Note: Red pandas are an endangered species with fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas in the world.