Tokyo zoo gutted as rare baby panda dies
A panda born at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo died yesterday of pneumonia, less than a week after its much-awaited birth was greeted with widespread excitement.
The cub was found motionless and without a heartbeat on his mother's belly and moved to an incubator, but efforts to revive the baby panda failed.
"It appears that when the baby was being breast-fed, it may have inhaled some milk, which caused pneumonia," zoo director Toshimitsu Doi told a hastily-called news conference before choking up and wiping his face with a handkerchief.
The panda's mother, Shin Shin, arrived from China in February 2011 with her partner Ri Ri. The two went on view to the public soon after a devastating earthquake and tsunami the following month, providing Japan with some welcome good news.
Hopes for a baby began after the two pandas were recorded on camera mating earlier this year, and the seven-year-old Shin Shin gave birth on July 5. It was the first panda birth at Ueno Zoo in 24 years.
The media followed the baby's growth on a daily basis, with TV footage showing the tiny, white-haired cub wriggling in an incubator or being cradled to its mother's chest. Visitors flocked to the zoo.
"We're really saddened by this. That's all we can say," said Yutaka Fukuda, the zoo's deputy director.
Images: AP Photo
Published: 12th July 2012