It was sad news to learn the panda cub at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, wasn't able to survive.

I'm kind of a sucker for animal stories and stories of survival, and there just aren't many pandas out there, in the wild or in captivity.

So when the National Zoo announced a birth, it seemed like good news.

But the odds are long for many animals, and pandas are among them, as the Associated Press reported:

Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - National Zoo officials say the 6-day-old panda cub that died had abnormalities on its liver and fluid in its abdomen, but they don't yet know the cause of death.

Officials say they believe the cub was female, although they're not completely sure.

They expect to know more once a necropsy is completed within two weeks.

Zoo officials said the 4-ounce cub showed no obvious signs of distress before making its final recorded noise Sunday morning. The cub's mother, Mei Xiang, made an unusual honking sound that her keepers interpreted as a distress call.

Zoo officials say Mei Xiang has begun to eat again and has come out of her den. They say she's cradling a plastic toy at night in what may be a display of maternal instinct.