Tokyo Zoo Bids Farewell to Giant Panda Xiang Xiang

Courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Gardens Association
Ueno Zoo staff carry the cage with Xiang Xiang inside on Tuesday.

Xiang Xiang, a 5-year-old giant panda born and raised at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoological Gardens, left Japan on Tuesday.

Xiang Xiang departed from the zoo Tuesday morning, seen off by park staff and fans at around 7:15 a.m. She was said to be in good health, calmly entering a cage that was then loaded onto a truck.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A truck carrying Xiang Xiang leaves Ueno Zoo on Tuesday morning in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

The panda arrived at Narita Airport just over an hour later, and left Japan on a chartered flight. She was accompanied on her journey by zookeepers tasked with handling her food, water and other needs.

Xiang Xiang will be kept at a panda conservation and research facility in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan Province. She was confirmed to be in estrus for the first time late last month, and mating will be arranged at the facility, where about 600 pandas are kept.

Xiang Xiang was born in June 2017 to mother Shin Shin and father Ri Ri. She was the first giant panda born through natural breeding at Ueno Zoo, and the second panda since You You, born in 1988, to be born and raised successfully at the facility.

Her parents were loaned by China for the purpose of breeding research, and Xiang Xiang also belongs to China. Her return to China was initially scheduled for the end of 2020, but this was postponed five times due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Xiang Xiang is seen on the last day of public viewing at Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

Xiang Xiang’s departure leaves Ueno Zoo with four giant pandas.