TOKYO – A baby panda whose birth this week delighted Japan and has dominated news coverage ever since appears to be in good health, the zoo said Tuesday.
Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo celebrated the tiny baby’s arrival Monday, prompting rolling television reports from the hordes of journalists who showed up to mark the happy occasion.
On Tuesday, eleven-year-old mum Shin Shin cuddled her tiny offspring tightly in an enclosure away from her eager fans – with a “Please Be Quiet” sign nearby.
“She is always holding the cub” to keep it warm, zoo director Yutaka Fukuda said.
“We periodically hear its cries so it seems to be in good health.” Zoo officials said they were still not able to give the size and weight of the cub, nor whether it is a boy or a girl.
Pandas are born pink, hairless and weighing around 100 grams (three-and-a-half ounces) – so small it can be difficult to determine their sex.
Zoo officials are keen to see whether the new cub is drinking Shin Shin’s milk.
Meanwhile, panda fever was sweeping Japan’s capital.
One department store decorated its roof with panda-shaped balloons and a bakery near the zoo sold panda-patterned bread.
Streets in the area were decorated with “Happy birthday baby panda” signs.
Shares of a restaurant chain that has its main outlet near the zoo soared on Monday in response to hopes the baby will draw hungry crowds to the area.
The birth of the as-yet-unnamed cub comes five years after the last panda arrived at Ueno Zoo.
However, the happiness was short-lived that time, with the baby dying from pneumonia six days later. The death reduced one of the zoo’s directors to tears.