By Yuri Kageyama
A giant panda cub was born in a Tokyo zoo Monday, but its gender, weight and even whether it will survive are uncertain.
The mother, Shin Shin, whose previous cub survived only six days, was holding her newborn in her paw but whether the cub was nursing was not clear, Ueno Zoo said in a statement.
The zoo released a blurry photo of the mother with the tiny head and limbs of her cub also visible.
While Shin Shin’s cub born in 2012 died, other pandas born at the zoo have survived.
The father of the newborn is another panda in the Tokyo zoo called RiRi, whose name means “power.” Shin Shin’s name means “truth.”
Ueno Zoo had stopped public display of Shin Shin when signs of her pregnancy surfaced last month.
Panda pregnancies and births have long been scrutinized by both zookeepers and the public, and the zoo has increasingly intervened and had zookeepers raise the cubs to ensure their survival. The first panda to be born in captivity in Japan was in 1985, at Ueno Zoo, and it lived only 43 hours.
About 420 giant pandas live in captivity, mostly in their native China, while about 1,860 live in the wild. China for decades gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as “panda diplomacy.” The country more recently has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.
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