A little panda named Xiang Xiang is creating a craze around pandas. Photos courtesy: Midori.
TOKYO — A new panda baby was born in Ueno Zoo in Japan, on June 12. The little panda named Xiang Xiang is creating a panda fever in Tokyo. She is the first panda naturally-conceived to survive at the zoo.
The viewing to see Xiang Xiang finally began on Dec. 19. Four hundred groups (each group with up to five people) per day could watch Xiang Xiang, and the tickets were given out by lottery. On the most popular day, 57,585 people applied for the tickets, reported Ueno Zoo.
People who won the lottery could watch Xiang Xiang for only one to two minutes and they had to move every 30 seconds.
Everyday hundreds of people visited Ueno Zoo to watch Xiang Xiang until the end of January.
Midori, from Tokyo, who got see Xiang Xiang said, “I applied for the lottery and asked my friends to apply, however I lost the all lotteries. Then, one of my friend who won the lottery invited me. I am so glad [I got] to watch the historical moment.”
Xiang Xiang is the first panda naturally-conceived to survive at the zoo after it started a breeding program in 2010.
“It is always amazing to hear about the success of our fellow colleagues when a baby panda is born. It is also great to hear that it was by natural mating, as this can be a challenge,” said Maria Franke, Toronto Zoo’s Curator of Mammals.
Maria says that there are many challenges to natural mating with pandas. While there is a lot of mate choices for pandas, they do not always like each other. That is when artificial insemination (AI) is introduced to increase the number of healthy cubs and maintain their healthy genetic population.
It is also challenging to raise a baby panda. Xiang Xiang is not the first baby panda that was conceived naturally in Ueno Zoo.
Xiang Xiang’s brother was born in 2012, however he died after six days. It is not always easy for pandas to grow up.
“When one baby panda is born it is always hopeful that the female will raise her offspring. If this is the case, it basically requires close monitoring to ensure that the baby is nursing well and that the mom is content and healthy,” said Maria.
Giant pandas are one of the most popular animals in Toronto Zoo. Millions of people have come and to see pandas since they arrived in 2013.
“Giant pandas are very unique with their black and white markings, large round face and a carnivore that eats bamboo. They are very popular, and the symbol for species conservation around the world,” says Maria.
“By telling their story, we can tell the story of all other species to help save biodiversity on this planet.”
Xiang Xiang created an obsession around pandas for Midori. “Xiang Xiang started getting me addicted to pandas, and finally I went to China to see [more] pandas.” says Midori.
Xiang Xiang was named by the public. Eight names were chosen from 322,581 applications. The public then voted on their favourite name, said Ueno Zoo. Xiang Xiang in kanji has the meaning of elegance and beauty, like a flower blooming.
Midori says, “I chose the name Sui Sui. Because [the kanji] is used for my name and Sui Sui means things go smoothly in Japanese, like sui sui oyogu, to swim smoothly. Therefore, I named her Sui Sui, hoping her to grow lightly and smoothly.”
Now the tickets will be open to the public and given first come, first serve starting in February. People who lost the lottery before or who wanted to see Xiang Xiang again, gathered and lined up at Ueno Zoo before opening hours in February.
The viewing time has been expanded, to let more people see Xiang Xiang, and 9,500 tickets (one tickets per person) are given per day. When Midori finally saw Xiang Xiang, she took many pictures.
“I can’t find other words than cute. Her look from the back is like a stuffed animal,” she says.
Xiang Xiang is adorable and a lot of her merchandise is sold at Ueno Zoo. If you want to know more about Xiang Xiang, why don’t you visit Ueno Zoo and see Xiang Xiang?
To see an adorable video of Xiang Xiang playing, watch the video below: