Giant panda Xiang Xiang expected to be returned to China early next year

Courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society
Xiang Xiang nibbles on a bamboo stalk at Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

Xiang Xiang, the popular female giant panda kept at Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo, is likely to be sent back to China in February or March next year, according to sources.

The Tokyo metropolitan government is reportedly in talks over the issue with Chinese authorities.

Five-year-old Xiang Xiang is the offspring of Ri Ri and Shin Shin, giant pandas that were previously loaned from China. Shin Shin also gave birth to Xiang Xiang’s younger twin siblings, male cub Xiao Xiao and female cub Lei Lei, at the zoo in June last year. Originally, Xiang Xiang was scheduled to be returned to China by June 2019, based on an agreement with the country. Yet the handover was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors.