The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the names of the baby giant pandas at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, born in June.
Question: It has been more than three months since the little giant pandas, a female and a male, were born at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in the Taito district of the capital. How are they ?
Answer: The male weighed 124 grams on June 23, the day of their birth, while the female weighed 146 grams the next day. At 97 days on September 28, both weighed 5,550 grams. Their teeth are also growing, with five confirmed for the male and eight for the female. While their 16-year-old mother, Shin Shin, takes care of a little one, the other spends time in a child’s room. They are changed every 10 to 15 days.
Q: I can’t wait to see them grow up. Will they soon start to walk?
A: 4-year-old Xian Xian, born in 2017 to the same parents as the twins, was able to stand on all fours at the age of 3 months and started crawling by the fourth month. It was also at this time that she became able to see. At 5 months old, she weighed about 10 kilograms and began to climb logs.
Q: Xian Xian was named about three months after he was born. Will the twin cubs also be named soon?
A: The zoo has publicly solicited name suggestions until August 20, and a total of 192,712 have been submitted online, in a zoo mailbox, and by other means. A selection committee whose members include actor Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and music critic Reiko Yukawa will review the ideas and plan to announce the names later this month. Xian Xian was also chosen from the audience’s suggestions, but it was the eighth most popular submission. The name most often suggested was “Run Run”, followed by “Mei Mei”. The selection committee narrowed down the suggestions to eight, looked at their Chinese kanji characters and discussed them with China, where she will be referred. The committee ultimately chose Xian Xian for reasons such as “being easy to pronounce.”
Q: Can we see the twins in person soon?
A: Ueno Zoo typically exhibited pandas to the public when they were around 6 months old. So for now, let’s watch their growth with a benevolent eye.
(Japanese original by Kazuo Yanagisawa, Tokyo Office)