TOKYO >> Few birthdays call for greater celebration than that of Xiang Xiang, a female giant panda cub living in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo who recently turned 2 years old.
Xiang Xiang was born on June 12, 2017, at about 5.2 ounces to Shin Shin and Ri Ri, both of whom arrived in Japan in February 2011 and live in adjacent enclosures. The cub was slated to be returned to China after two years, but China agreed to extend her stay in Japan until the end of 2020.
Today, Xiang Xiang weighs 61.6 kilograms (about 136 pounds), about half the weight of a fully grown giant panda, according to Yasumasa Tomita, director and general curator at Ueno Zoological Gardens.
“Xiang Xiang is still a child but she’s well on her way to adulthood,” Tomita said. “I’m grateful that she’s been able to live a healthy life so far.”
Xiang Xiang seemed oblivious to spectators surrounding her enclosure. She was preoccupied with an endless supply of tasty bamboo branches, trees and other wooden structures just begging to be climbed, and she ran along a pathway surrounding the enclosure with a noticeable spring in her step.
Tomita said she enjoys life in all kinds of weather.
“Xiang Xiang doesn’t seem to mind the rain,” Tomita said. “Actually I think she quite likes it.”