Tokyo baby panda debuts, melts heart of fans

  • Female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang eats bamboo during a press preview at the Ueno Zoological gardens in Tokyo, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017.  YoshikazuTsuno/Pool Photo via AP

  • Giant panda cub Xiang Xiang, left, is pulled by her mother Shin Shin at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Xiang Xiang, or Fragrance in Chinese, a 6-month-old female giant panda, made a debut Tuesday in a limited public viewing for avid fans who obtained tickets through a highly competitive lottery process. Kyodo News via AP

  • Miu Suwazono, a 6-month-old girl, wearing clothes featuring panda waits at Ueno Zoo to see 6-month-old female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang during its public viewing in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Tokyo’s new idol, baby panda Xiang Xiang, formally debuted Tuesday, immediately melting the hearts of hundreds of fans decorating themselves with panda motifs who visited the zoo and the neighborhood filled with festivity. AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

  • Visitors look at female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.  ToruYamanaka/Pool Photo via AP

  • In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, photo, female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang walks in a cage during a press preview at the Ueno Zoological gardens in Tokyo.  YoshikazuTsuno/Pool Photo via AP

  • In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, photo, female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang climbs a tree during a press preview at the Ueno Zoological gardens in Tokyo. Xiang Xiang, which means fragrance in Chinese, was born in June at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo to its resident panda. It’s a first one in 39 years to have been born in Ueno, known as a panda town. The zoo and its neighborhood celebrated Xiang Xiang’s healthy growth especially after the death of a days-old baby panda five years ago. YoshikazuTsuno/Pool Photo via AP

  • Female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang, left, walks beside her mother Shin Shin at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Tokyo’s new idol, baby panda Xiang Xiang, formally debuted Tuesday, immediately melting the hearts of hundreds of fans decorating themselves with panda motifs who visited the zoo and the neighborhood filled with festivity. ToruYamanaka/Pool Photo via AP

  • In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, photo, female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang plays on a tree during a press preview at the Ueno Zoological gardens in Tokyo.  YoshikazuTsuno/Pool Photo via AP

  • In this Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, photo, female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang eats bamboo during a press preview at the Ueno Zoological gardens in Tokyo.  YoshikazuTsuno/Pool Photo via AP

  • A visitor takes a souvenir photo with a costumed panda in front of Ueno Zoo during a public viewing of female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang, in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Tokyo’s new idol, baby panda Xiang Xiang, formally debuted Tuesday, immediately melting the hearts of hundreds of fans decorating themselves with panda motifs who visited the zoo and the neighborhood filled with festivity.  AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

  • In this Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, photo, children watch panda goods at an open-air market at Ameyoko shopping district near Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Tokyo’s new idol, baby panda Xiang Xiang, formally debuted Tuesday, immediately melting the hearts of hundreds of fans decorating themselves with panda motifs who visited the zoo and the neighborhood filled with festivity. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) Shizuo Kambayashi

  • Saeko Nishitani, 23, wearing clothes featuring pandas poses for a photo at Ueno Zoo during a public viewing of female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.  AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

  • Satoru Suwazono, right, his wife Hitomi, second from right, and their daughter Miu, left, leave the cage of female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang during its public viewing at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Japanese characters in the backfround read: "Giant panda."  AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Published: 12/19/2017 10:48:27 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo’s new baby panda debuted formally Tuesday, immediately melting the hearts of hundreds of lucky fans who managed to obtain zoo tickets, many wearing panda-themed clothes.

Xiang Xiang, which means fragrance in Chinese, was born in June at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo to its resident panda. The zoo and its neighborhood have celebrated the female panda’s healthy growth, especially after the death of a days-old baby five years ago.

“Kawaii (cute)!” screamed many visitors, their voices filling the panda house during the 2 ½ hour viewing session, as Xiang Xiang crawled on the ground, followed its mother Shin Shin, climbed a tree and played with bamboo branches. The visitors held up smartphones trying to capture every antic of the slow-moving baby panda during their less than 10 minutes of viewing time.

Many visitors decorated themselves or their children with panda motifs on hats, scarves and even shoes and jackets, or wore black-and-white jackets. In and outside the zoo, panda goods of all kinds were on sale, including stuffed panda dolls, cookies, sweet buns and bread. Some shopkeepers wore panda costumes.

Only 2,000 people were allowed into the panda house, with tickets distributed through a lottery. Zoo officials said Xiang Xiang’s public appearances will be limited for the time being to minimize the stress.




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