TOKYO - Twin giant pandas, male cub Xiao Xiao and his sister Lei Lei, who were born in June at Tokyo's Ueno Zoological Gardens, appeared to the public for the first time with their mother Shin Shin Wednesday, much to the delight of a limited number of lottery winners.
The furry balls of fun, unfortunately, for the hundreds of thousands of panda lovers in Japan, will only be on public display at the zoo for three days.
In addition, much to the frustration of the thousands of fans who would simply love to get a glimpse of Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei, both weighing around 13 to 14 kg, as they explore, climb and eat leaves in their enclosure, a cap on the number of visitors allowed to view the twins is in place, due to the rampant spread of COVID-19 in Japan, including in the capital.
Visitors could only see the pandas by way of a lottery system and the lucky winners began entering the panda area at the zoo at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Each winner was only granted one minute, however, to gaze at the gorgeous creatures, before making way for the next visitor, in the zoo's bid to prevent the spread of infections.
"They were fluffy and cute. It was a miracle that I could see them biting leaves and climbing a tree," 55-year-old Naoko Kawazoe, a Tokyo resident who became the first visitor to meet the pandas after lining up at the zoo from 5 a.m., was quoted by local media as saying.
The two cubs' mother Shin Shin and father Ri Ri, both aged 16, are on loan from China. The pair were also parents to four-year-old female panda Xiang Xiang.
The birth of the twins was a first for Ueno Zoo, the oldest zoo in Japan, since it opened its doors in 1882.
In commemoration of the normalization of bilateral ties, China first gifted Japan pandas in 1972.