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Giant panda Xiang Xiang turns 4 in Tokyo with celebration on zoo website

The giant panda Xiang Xiang, who turned 4 on June 12, is seen in this photo taken on June 1, 2021, provided by the Tokyo Zoological Park Society.

TOKYO -- Ueno Zoo in the capital's Taito Ward has set up a special page on its website featuring the giant panda Xiang Xiang, who marked her fourth birthday on June 12.

    The giant panda Xiang Xiang, who turned 4 on June 12, is seen in this photo taken on June 7, 2021, provided by the Tokyo Zoological Park Society.

    On the page, visitors can see images of Xiang Xiang, growing up over the past four years. The popular panda was due to be returned to China at the end of 2020, but Chinese staff were unable to come to Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic, and so the zoo's loan of Xiang Xiang was extended until December 2021. It is expected that this will be Xiang Xiang's last birthday in Japan.

    The special website corner has a video comparing her growth to that of the western gorilla Riki, who was born in the same year, allowing viewers to learn about wildlife diversity and the traits of pandas. The zoo is also offering special wallpaper that people can download to their computers and smartphones.

    On the zoo's Twitter account, images of Xiang Xiang are being posted along with tips for people to help protect giant pandas -- an endangered species with only about 1,800 of them living in the wild -- under the title "Take action for pandas today."

    The zoo reopened on June 4 after closing temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, but people need to book in advance to enter. To avoid crowding, the zoo is not staging any commemorative events for visitors. The special project page can be accessed from the zoo's website at https://www.tokyo-zoo.net/zoo/ueno/ (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)

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