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Friday, July 6, 2012

Giant panda Shin Shin gives birth at Ueno Zoo; first cub born in 24 years

Staff writer

Giant panda Shin Shin has given birth to a cub, officials at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo said Thursday. It is the first to be born at the nation's oldest zoo in 24 years, and the first there to be conceived naturally.

News photo
Eating for two: Female giant panda Shin Shin feeds on bamboo at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo last month. KYODO

The cub, whose sex has yet to be determined, was born at 12:27 p.m. and both the mother and baby are in good health, an official at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said. The baby's father is Ri Ri.

"Shin Shin has been holding the cub to her chest" and showing signs of feeding the baby, the official said. Zoo staff have been monitoring the pandas by camera. Neither the weight nor size of the cub are yet known.

Because a second cub is sometimes born as long as a day after the first, Shin Shin will continue to be monitored closely, the official said.

Shin Shin and Ri Ri are on a 10-year loan from China that started in February 2011. Under the terms of the agreement, the cub is owned by China and will be sent there in two years, according to the metropolitan government.

Shin Shin and Ri Ri were placed in the same cage on March 25, and it was confirmed they had mated a day later.

The zoo removed Shin Shin from public view on June 30, when it appeared she was pregnant. However, the zoo was unable to confirm her condition because changes in hormonal level can mimic signs of pregnancy.

The gestation period is usually 80 to 200 days. Shin Shin gave birth 102 days after first mating with Ri Ri.

The cub is the fourth born at the zoo. The last, Yu Yu, was born in 1988.

Information from Kyodo added

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