Twin panda cubs make debut at Ueno Zoo

Courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society
Twin panda cubs Xiao Xiao, above, and Lei Lei play at Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo on Wednesday.

Twin giant panda cubs born at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in June made their public debut on Wednesday.

The zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo, has been closed since Tuesday as a control measure against the novel coronavirus, but specially selected visitors were granted admission. The young bears — male cub Xiao Xiao and female cub Lei Lei — will be on display for three days starting Wednesday. Visitors were selected through a lottery system in which only 1 in 335 applications was successful.

Some 1,080 lottery winners entered the zoo in three staggered time slots. The lucky visitors were able to spend around a minute watching the twins interacting happily, as their mother, Shin Shin, looked on.

“They were round and looked like soft toys,” said Osamu Takeuchi, 56, a company employee from Shiki, Saitama Prefecture. “I’m so glad I was able to see them while they’re small.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors who won a lottery to view twin giant panda cubs queue for admission at Ueno Zoo on Wednesday.

The cubs weighed about 100 grams each when born, but have since grown to around 13-14 kilograms.

“This is the first time for the zoo to raise twin cubs,” said a zoo staff member. “Due to the pandemic, specialists from China are unable to visit, so I’m relieved we’ve been able to raise and exhibit the pandas without trouble.”