Twin joy as Tokyo panda gives birth to two cubs

Tokyo: A panda at Tokyo’s Ueno zoo gave birth to twins on Wednesday, weeks after news of Shin Shin’s pregnancy sent stocks in nearby restaurants soaring.

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The two bundles of joy were born in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the zoo said in a statement, adding that it had not yet confirmed the sex of the pair.

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“Officials are currently doing their best to protect and observe the mother and babies,” the statement added.

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The zoo is set to give a press conference later Wednesday morning and release images of the tiny additions.

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Mother Shin Shin sparked a rally in stocks of eateries near the zoo earlier this month when her suspected pregnancy was announced, with investors anticipating a visitor boom to the area after the delivery.

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Shares in one Chinese restaurant nearby spiked nearly 30 per cent on the pregnancy and was up around 6.4 per cent in early trade Wednesday.

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Zookeepers had been on alert for a possible pregnancy after Shin Shin and partner Ri Ri mated in early March.

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The pair are also parents of a female panda, Xiang Xiang, that was born in June 2017 and became a massive draw for the zoo.

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1,800

giant pandas left in the wild, living mainly in bamboo forests in the mountains of China.###

She was scheduled to be repatriated to China two years after her birth, but Japanese officials successfully negotiated to extend her stay.

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She is now set to return to China at the end of the year.

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Japanese media have been offering regular updates on the pandas at Ueno, which in non-pandemic times draw huge crowds of domestic and foreign tourists.

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It is estimated that there are around 1,800 giant pandas left in the wild, living mainly in bamboo forests in the mountains of China, according to environmental group WWF.

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Around 600 more live in zoos and breeding centres around the world.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies giant pandas as “vulnerable”.

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The black and white mammals are immensely popular around the world and China loans them out as part of a “panda diplomacy” programme to foster foreign ties.

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The bears are notoriously bad at reproducing, but the last year has seen several born at facilities around the world.

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In early June, a panda in Malaysia gave birth to its third cub during its stay there.

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And a newborn in Washington DC has enthralled Americans since its birth in August 2020, with over a million people tuning in within just months to watch Xiao Qi Ji – Little Miracle – on a “Panda Cam”.

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