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Panda born in Tokyo zoo after 24 years

Tokyo zoo welcomed its first baby panda in 24 years.
Baby panda tokyo zoo shin shin july 5 2012Enlarge
Female giant panda Shin Shin eats bamboo at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo on April 1, 2011. Shin Shin gave birth to a baby panda on July 5, 2012, making it the first baby panda birth in Ueno Zoo in 24 years. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Shin Shin the giant panda gave birth to a baby panda on Thursday, the first panda birth that Tokyo's Ueno Zoo has seen in 24 years, according to Reuters.

A zoo official told Agence France Presse, "The baby was born around noon today, but we have no further details as our keepers are taking care of the pandas." The gender of the baby is not yet known.

Reuters said television footage showed Shin Shin holding a tiny object to her chest, and zoo officials reported that the baby squealed loudly.

Shin Shin was only suspected to be pregnant on Saturday, after zoo keepers noticed that she was sensitive around noise and light, said AFP.

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Six-year-old Shin Shin, on loan from China along with partner Ri Ri, appeared in public in Japan for the first time in April 2011, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, according to BBC.

Shin Shin was spotted mating with Ri Ri earlier this year. The birth was the first at Tokyo's zoo to result from a natural mating, said Reuters, as opposed to artificial insemination.

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The birth is significant because experts believe pandas experience difficulty in conceiving naturally, especially when they are on display, according to the BBC.

The news made headlines in Japan and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the birth was "good news," expressing his hope that the baby panda would have a "positive effect" on relations between Japan and China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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