Giant panda Shin Shin, 15, gave birth to twins at Ueno Zoo, Japan’s oldest zoo, on Wednesday (23).
Puppies do not have a specific gender yet. According to the zoo, which is located in Tokyo, the twins were born one hour apart. One of them weighs 124 grams and should be joined by his sister Xiang Xiang, born in 2017.
There are about 1,800 giant pandas in the wild in China, as well as about 500 in captivity worldwide.
Giant panda gives birth to twins in Tokyo – Photo: Issei Kato / Reuters
Last November, Shin Shin began a mating ritual with 15-year-old panda Ri Ri. Earlier this month, the zoo announced that there were signs of a bear pregnancy.
Yutaka Fukuda, director of the zoo, said the birth of the twins was a happy surprise.
“When I gave birth to the first, I felt great,” Fukuda said during a press conference on Wednesday morning. “When I received the report on the second report, I was shocked and very happy.”
According to zoo representative Naoya Ohashi, pandas usually breastfeed only one baby when they have twins. That’s why the zoo staff must put the puppies into the incubator to ensure that the shin shin breastfeeds the puppies.
Both Pandas Shin and Ri Ri are scheduled to return to China in February. But Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, fearful of depriving the zoo of a major visitor attraction, has negotiated the couple’s stay for another five years. Ueno Zoo reopened earlier this month after a five-month closure due to the pandemic.
China first sent pandas to Ueno Zoo in 1972 as part of the country’s “panda diplomacy”, which gained momentum in the 1950s.