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Giant panda at west Japan zoo gives birth for first time in 2 years

A newborn giant panda is seen in this photo provided by the Adventure World theme park in the western Japan town of Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture.

SHIRAHAMA, Wakayama -- A zoo in western Japan announced that its female giant panda Rauhin gave birth to a male cub on Nov. 22 -- her first delivery in two years.

    The baby panda was the 17th cub delivered at the Adventure World theme park in the town of Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture. Born at 11:50 a.m. on Nov. 22, the male baby panda measured 20.5 centimeters long, and weighed 157 grams. The panda is said to be very energetic, squeaks a lot, and has been tucked tightly in his mother's embrace.

    Natural mating between 28-year-old male giant panda Eimei and 20-year-old Rauhin was confirmed in June. This is her seventh time delivering babies, and she is currently the mother to 10 pandas, including three pairs of twins.

    Eimei is the father to all 10 pandas, and has also fathered six other giant pandas including the baby born between him and female panda Meimei, who passed away in 2008. Eleven of the 16 pandas have been sent to China for breeding. According to the zoo, Eimei is the equivalent of being in his 80s in human years, and broke his own record of being "the world's oldest giant panda to produce offspring through natural mating in captivity."

    The Chinese researchers who had visited Japan during earlier deliveries could not make it this time due to the novel coronavirus, and it was the first time that a panda had been born under the supervision of only Japanese staff. Zoo director Koji Imazu commented, "Although we had worries, we're relived to be able to announce the happy news. I'd like the cub to grow into a panda that can brighten up the hearts of many people."

    (Japanese original by Yukihiro Takeuchi, Tanabe Local Bureau)

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