Health Care

Giant panda gives birth at Tokyo Zoo; 1st cub in 5 years

Giant panda gives birth at Tokyo Zoo; 1st cub in 5 years

A giant panda cub at a Tokyo zoo appears to be in good health, crying loudly while being gently held by its mother, the zoo said Tuesday, one day after the cub was born.

The 11-year-old panda delivered the cub at 11:52 a.m., according to officials of the zoo in Taito Ward who confirmed February 27 that Shin Shin had mated with her partner Ri Ri, also 11. However, it was shortlived after the cub died of pneumonia just six days after birth. The zoo's statement said she was holding her cub in her paw but whether the baby is nursing was not clear.

Shin Shin is so protective of her new baby in fact, that zoo staff haven't been able to get close enough to confirm the new arrival's weight or sex.

A Japanese expert said on Tuesday that the giant panda cub born recently at a zoo in central Tokyo is expected to bring a 26.7 billion yen (242 million USA dollars) economic effect to the city, local media reported.

"We are very happy", Yutaka Fukuda, deputy head of the zoo, said during a live news broadcast on Japan's NHK channel. "But we would like to carefully monitor them because the cub is still in a very early stage".

Panda births are extremely rare because of the great difficulties the animals have in conceiving. "I hope the cub will grow up healthy and contribute to conservation of the species". The program has led to the births of 15 pandas, eight of whom have already returned to China, according to Xinhua.

Zoo officials are keen to see whether the new cub is drinking Shin Shin's milk. Totenko, which operates a Chinese eatery within walking distance of the zoo, jumped as much as 38 percent, while French restaurant Seiyoken advanced up to 11 percent.

According to the Japan Times, the zoo hasn't decided when the cub will officially be put on display.


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