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Giant panda born in Tokyo zoo, survival uncertain

  • TOKYO ZOOLOGICAL PARK SOCIETY VIA AP

    In an image made from a video released by the Tokyo Zoological Park Society, giant panda ShinShin held her newborn cub in her mouth at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

TOKYO >> A giant panda cub was born in a Tokyo zoo today, but its gender, weight and even whether it will survive are uncertain.

The mother, ShinShin, whose previous cub survived only six days, was holding her newborn in her paw but whether the cub was nursing was not clear, Ueno Zoo said in a statement.

The zoo released a blurry photo of the mother with the tiny head and limbs of her cub also visible.

While ShinShin’s cub born in 2012 died, other pandas born at the zoo have survived.

The father of the newborn is another panda in the Tokyo zoo called RiRi, whose name means “power.” ShinShin’s name means “truth.”

Ueno Zoo had stopped public display of ShinShin when signs of her pregnancy surfaced earlier this year.

Panda pregnancies and births have long been scrutinized by both zookeepers and the public, and the zoo has increasingly intervened and had zookeepers raise the cubs to ensure their survival. The first panda to be born in captivity in Japan was in 1985, at Ueno Zoo, and it lived only 43 hours.

About 420 giant pandas live in captivity, mostly in their native China, while about 1,860 live in the wild. China for decades gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as “panda diplomacy.” The country more recently has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

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