January 13, 2022
TOKYO – 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 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.”