Feature: Birth of giant panda cub cheered across Japan

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-15 22:32:30|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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TOKYO, June 15 (Xinhua) -- A giant panda cub recently born at a zoo in central Tokyo has brought joy and cheers from around the nation.

Eleven-year-old "Fairy" (Japanese name Shin Shin) gave birth to a cub at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in central Tokyo on Monday, five years after her first cub was found dead just days after it was born.

Officials from the zoo said Thursday that the cub, measuring 14.3 centimeters in length and 147 grams in weight according to a checkup a day earlier, was in good health, though the sex was not known yet.

They also said that the zoo was monitoring health of the cub around the clock with the help of an expert from China.

Mikako Kaneko, an official at the Ueno zoo, said in an earlier interview with Xinhua that the zoo was focusing on raising the panda cub healthily, while she hoped that when the cub grows up, it would attract more visitors to the zoo, including Chinese visitors.

"In 1972, a pair of pandas Lan Lan and Kang Kang came to Ueno zoo as a gift from China to mark the normalization of bilateral ties between China and Japan. Now on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of normalization of bilateral ties, the new birth made us very happy," she added.

Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has said that the giant panda, loved by so many people for its charming face and gestures, is "one of the great testaments to the Japan-China friendship."

"This is very joyful," he told a press conference on Monday when the panda cub was born.

Netizens around Japan expressed on the social media their joy at the birth and their eagerness to meet with the panda cub.

"Congratulations to the panda couple. I really hope that we can see the panda baby soon," tweeted a netizen with the name "Sanahime."

"I look forward so much to visiting the zoo and to seeing the panda baby. It's wonderful that the panda mother and baby are healthy," said another netizen.

"I can never forget how I was touched when I saw a giant panda baby in a zoo in Wakayama prefecture. I hope Shin Shin's baby could grow up healthily," tweeted "KokechanM."

The birth of the panda cub is also expected to bring in 26.7 billion yen (242 million U.S. dollars) to the city, according to local experts.

Katsuhiro Miyamoto, professor emeritus of theoretical economics at Kansai University in Osaka prefecture, suggested that the new panda cub could attract some 5,657,000 people to the zoo in fiscal year 2017, up over 1.8 million from the previous year, by making analogy to the increased visitor rates at the zoo in 1972 when giant pandas were exhibited in Japan for the first time.

In addition to increased admission fees and spendings of visitors to the zoo, the new panda cub would also boost the income of employees at relevant facilities, according to the professor.

Totenko, a company that operates a nearby restaurant specializing in Chinese cuisine, is apparently one of the direct beneficiary of the new birth. Stock price of the company rose instantly following the birth of the panda cub.

Stock price of the restaurant operator also reportedly jumped in February when the zoo announced that the pandas were mating.

Retailers in Japan are also trying to hitch a ride of people's craze for the new giant panda.

Matsuzakaya Ueno Department Store has announced a "Happy Panda Week" on June 12-20 to mark the birth of the panda cub with events, including sale of panda-shaped sweets of limited edition and decoration of the store with panda-shaped balloons among others.

A giant panda cub will bring as big an impact as "a professional baseball team winning a title," said Miyamoto.

"Fairy" and her mate "Billy" (Japanese name Ri Ri) have been firm favorites at the zoo since their arrival on loan from China in February 2011, just a few days before the March 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

Through natural mating and not artificial insemination, the pair had a cub in 2012, marking the first born at the zoo in 24 years. But hearts were soon broken as the cub died from pneumonia just six days after birth.

"Fairy" in 2013 displayed signs of being pregnant, zoo officials said, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

The pair were seen mating in late February and thereafter the female panda had been showing signs of pregnancy, such as a loss of appetite and lethargy, and was withdrawn from public view, the zoo said.