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Survival fears for giant panda cub born at Tokyo zoo

A giant panda cub has been born in a zoo in Japan, but its gender, weight and even whether it will survive are uncertain.

The mother, ShinShin, 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 in Tokyo 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 ShinShin'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". ShinShin's name means "truth".

Ueno Zoo had removed ShinShin from public display when signs of her pregnancy surfaced earlier this year.

Panda pregnancies and births have long been scrutinised by both zookeepers and the public, and the zoo has increasingly intervened and had keepers 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.

For decades China gifted friendly nations with its unofficial national mascot in what was known as "panda diplomacy". More recently, the country has loaned pandas to zoos on commercial terms.

AP

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