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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Panda mama Shin Shin nursing newborn cub, keeping it protected


Staff writer

Shin Shin the panda is doing a good job as a mother, nursing her new cub and even holding it while she sleeps, a Ueno Zoo official said Friday.

News photo
Protective: Shin Shin holds her hairless cub above her right forepaw at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo on Friday. TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT / KYODO

A day after she gave birth at Tokyo's oldest zoo, both mother and baby were doing fine and whenever the cub cries, Shin Shin feeds the newborn, said Yutaka Fukuda, a vice director at the zoo.

"I'm so relieved. It's really important for a new mother to react when her baby cries and hold the cub," he said. "I believe she will be a good mother."

Giant pandas will sometime abandon a newborn and ignore its cries, he explained.

The animals can give birth to two cubs at a time, but enough time has passed that is appears Shin Shin won't be having twins this time, Fukuda said.

"I have learned again that the panda is a very affectionate animal. (Shin Shin) looks at the baby and seems to care about it, always holding the tiny cub and won't let go of it even for a moment," he said.

It's still unknown whether the newborn is male or female.

The zoo's panda team, comprised of five workers and four veterinarians, will continue using two cameras to observe the pair 24 hours a day for about a week, Fukuda said.

A breeding expert at the panda center in Sichuan, China, where Shin Shin grew up, arrived Thursday and joined the team, he said.

The public probably won't get a chance to see the cub for another six months and it's too early to decide when Shin Shin will again be available, Fukuda said.

Shin Shin and her mate, Ri Ri, are on loan from China for 10 years. Under the terms of the agreement, the cub will be sent to China in two years, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.



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