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Lease period for Xiang Xiang the panda at Tokyo zoo extended again due to pandemic

Xiang Xiang the giant panda is seen at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo's Taito Ward in this March 22, 2021 photo provided by the zoo.

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced on March 26 that China's lease of the giant panda Xiang Xiang to a zoo in the capital will be extended from the end of May to the end of December.

    The 3-year-old female panda was initially scheduled to be returned to China at the end of December 2020, but the lease period was extended to the end of May this year due to the spread of the coronavirus. However, as staff from both Japan and China remain unable to travel to each other's countries, officials decided to extend the lease period again.

    Ueno Zoological Gardens in the capital's Taito Ward is currently closed for business as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike commented, "To achieve an environment in which people can meet Xiang Xiang, I would like to ask for their continued cooperation (in coronavirus countermeasures)."

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi and Koichi Uchida, City News Department)

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