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Giant panda cub Xiang Xiang to make public debut on Dec. 19

Giant panda cub Xiang Xiang is seen with her mother Shin Shin at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo's Taito Ward on Nov. 19, 2017. (Photo courtesy of the Tokyo Zoological Park Society)

The giant panda cub Xiang Xiang will go on public display for the first time on Dec. 19 at Ueno Zoological Gardens, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced.

Visitors will be able to see the panda in the indoor exhibition space of her enclosure with her mother Shin Shin. Out of consideration for the health of the cub, born earlier this year, viewing on the day will be limited to a 2 1/2 hour period from 9:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Since there is a high chance of crowds flocking to see her, viewers will be decided by lottery for the time being. It is expected that about 2,000 people per day will be able to see the fuzzy star.

Zoo head Yutaka Fukuda said the cub was doing well. "She's growing steadily, and she's in good health," he said. "We decided to present her to the public six months after her birth."

A zoo official said that when Xiang Xiang's father Ri Ri and Shin Shin were unveiled to the public in 2011, people waited four hours in line to see them. The official said the zoo decided on a lottery system to avoid confusion.

Visitors viewing the giant panda cub will be separated into groups of about 20, and they will be able to stop in front of the exhibition room for around one to two minutes and take photos. The zoo plans to start accepting viewing applications by phone and on a special website on Dec. 6. Applications must be made at least two weeks ahead of a visitor's planned viewing date.

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