Science

Panda twins are born in a Tokyo zoo

Shin Shin, a female panda from Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, gave birth to twins overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, an event in Japan that even drew a reaction from the government spokesman.

The sex of the two babies has not yet been specified. Zoo workers “are doing their best right now to protect and observe the mother and her babies,” the animal park said in a statement.

This is the first time that panda twins have been born at Ueno Zoo. One of the tiny babies, weighing 124 grams, was placed in an incubator, a zoo spokesperson later explained at a press conference.

Shin Shin “is in good health” and is looking after the other baby with care, he added.

When pandas have twin babies, they usually raise just one, “so we have to make sure the mother nurses one while we keep the other in the incubator,” the zoo spokesperson said.

Babies will swap places regularly, so both should enjoy breastfeeding.

This is the first pandas birth at Ueno Zoo since the birth of a female in 2017, Xiang Xiang, who became a major attraction for the site before the pandemic.

The announcement of Shin Shin’s new pregnancy in early June had already made the headlines in Japan, and had incidentally also benefited the actions of certain restaurant chains on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

With popular restaurants next to the zoo, these companies should logically benefit from an influx of visitors in the future thanks to the extended panda family. Their shares also jumped again on Wednesday.

The birth of the twins “is welcome news,” Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Wednesday.

There are only some 1,800 giant pandas in the wild in the world, living in bamboo forests in mountain ranges in China, a specific natural habitat that is becoming scarce, according to environmental organization WWF.

Some 600 other specimens of this endangered species live in animal parks around the world.

China has a custom of long-term loan of giant pandas to foreign countries as a sign of friendship, a practice dubbed “panda diplomacy.”

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