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Using high technology to prepare for a baby panda (pictures)

As San Diego Zoo staff waited to see if a pregnant panda would give birth, they relied on military imaging and other tech tools to get real-time progress reports. CNET Road Trip 2012 got an up close look.

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Daniel Terdiman
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1 of 8 San Diego Zoo

Panda cub

SAN DIEGO --For weeks, San Diego Zoo staffers knew that Bai Yun, a 20-year-old female panda, might be pregnant. But given that she had had an unsuccessful pregnancy in 2011 -- and because only one other known panda has ever given birth at such an age -- they kept their enthusiasm in check.

But last Friday, based on several factors, including indications from a pair of high-tech tools used to monitor Bai Yun, they issued a birth watch, and today, Bai Yun delivered. No one knows yet the sex of the newborn cub, nor will they for weeks. But who cares? It's a newborn panda.

This is a picture of a previous panda cub at the zoo.

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2 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Ultrasound

One of the tools the staff used to monitor Bai Yun's pregnancy was ultrasound. Here, in this ultrasound image, it is possible -- if you know what you're looking for -- to see evidence of the in-utero cub.

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3 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Pointing out the fetus

San Diego Zoo veterinarian Meg Sutherland-Smith points to the ultrasound to indicate the panda fetus.

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4 of 8 San Diego Zoo

Bai Yun

This is Bai Yun, the 20-year-old San Diego Zoo panda who gave birth to a new cub today.

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5 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Yun Zi

This is Yun Zi, Bai Yun's 3-year-old son, who's still at the San Diego Zoo but may soon be sent back to China under an agreement that says that China has the right to claim any three-year-old pandas born outside the country.

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6 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Gao Gao

This is Gao Gao, the 20-year-old male who is father to Bai Yun's new cub, as well as Yun Zi.

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7 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Gao Gao looking away

Gao Gao keeps himself busy early in the morning at the San Diego Zoo.

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8 of 8 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Medical staff gathered

The panda staff gathers around Bai Yun as they give her an ultrasound, away from any unfamiliar faces that could have stressed the panda out.

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