Giant panda gives birth to twin cubs at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo

TOKYO – One month before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the city has another reason to celebrate – giant panda Shin Shin has given birth to twins at Ueno Zoo, the first panda Birth there in four years.

On the Tokyo Zoo website, the two newborn pandas were born on Wednesday at 1:03 a.m. (1403 GMT) and 2:32 a.m. with an hour and a half apart. Their gender has not been determined and they have not yet been named.

“All employees work together to watch and protect the giant panda’s mother and children,” said a statement from the zoo on its panda website.

According to the announcement, one of the boys weighs 124 g. The other’s weight is unknown. The cubs are roughly the length of an adult human hand, as shown in a picture on the zoo’s website.

A Ueno Zoological Park employee holds one of the newborn twin pandas delivered by the giant panda Shin Shin at Ueno Zoological Park in Tokyo Tokyo Zoological Park Society / Reuters

Shin Shin was born on July 3, 2005 at the Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center in Wolong, China, and arrived at Ueno Zoo with her male partner, Ri Ri, a decade ago. The couple are also parents to a female panda named Xiang Xiang, who was born in June 2017.

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It is not immediately known when the newborn cubs are expected to be exhibited at the zoo. Shin Shin had been removed from the public eye since the zoo reopened after the June 4 pandemic shutdown when she showed signs of possible pregnancy.

Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity because females only come into heat once a year and can be picky about partners.

“The pandas are now a family of five. This is good news,” said Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato, congratulating the zookeepers on the birth.

“I believe that everyone at the zoo is doing everything they can day and night to keep the panda family healthy, and I hope that everyone will take care of them warmly and quietly.”

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