Tokyo governor gives baby panda the fragrant name: Xiang Xiang

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:40pm

Tokyo’s newest baby panda, which is just beginning to crawl and has now lived long enough to get a name, will be called Xiang Xiang, the governor of the Japanese capital, Yuriko Koike, said on Monday.

Japan celebrated the birth of the healthy female cub in June, five years after her mother, Shin Shin, lost another cub within days of its birth. It has been nearly three decades since a baby panda at the capital’s Ueno Zoo has survived this long.

The name, written with the Chinese character for fragrant, was chosen from more than 322,000 suggestions submitted by the public.

Most pandas are named at around 100 days of age, which Xiang Xiang reached last week.

“This name evokes the idea of fragrance – and it’s extremely cute,” Koike told a news conference.

The media-savvy Koike revealed the name just hours before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was expected to announce a snap election that her party and its allies are preparing to fight, under the banner of a new conservative Hope Party.

The baby, at birth small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, now has typical panda markings and weighs roughly 6kg. She can support herself on all fours and is taking tentative steps.

Shin Shin and her partner, Ri Ri, arrived from China in February 2011 and went on view soon after the following month’s devastating earthquake, offering a scrap of good news for an anguished nation.

A male cub born in 2012 was the first in 24 years at the Ueno Zoo, but six days after its birth, it was found lying motionless on its mother’s belly and efforts to revive it failed.