My condolences go out to the hard working staff at Ueno Zoo in Japan, I know they worked so very hard to help Shin's newborn make it through this critical time.
By Yoree Koh
The first giant panda born at Japan’s oldest zoo in nearly a quarter-century died of pneumonia Wednesday just six days after
its celebrated arrival.
Less than an hour later, staff found the cub face up on Shin Shin’s chest in
a state of cardiac arrest. The cub was put in an incubator and given a heart
massage, but was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. Ueno Zoo director Toshimitsu Doi
told reporters the cub caught pneumonia after the mother’s milk got into its
The birth on July 5 of the zoo’s first baby panda for 24 years
and its progress during its first few days of life attracted broad news coverage
National broadcaster NHK ran breaking news headlines over its normal
programming to announce the birth, and death, of the cub, while newspapers gave
daily updates on the cub’s milk intake and published front-page photos of Shin
Shin cradling the pinkish newborn — weighing a mere 133 grams at birth.
Seven-year-old Shin Shin, on loan from China, appeared to be attentive toward
her baby on the first day, nursing it frequently. But she seemed to tire of her
maternal responsibilities by the next night, leaving the cub and wandering off
to eat bamboo shoots.
Zoo staff alternated between moving the cub from an incubator to Shin Shin’s
side while gauging the mother’s interest. On Monday evening they returned the
cub to an incubator due to concerns that it was not getting enough food, before
placing it once more by Shin Shin’s side on Tuesday.
Around 60-70% of baby giant pandas die within their first week, zoo officials
said at a press conference. A panda breeding expert visiting from China, who was
on site when the baby was discovered, said that the same thing frequently
happens in China, zoo officials said.
The cub’s death quickly became the most talked about trending topic on
Twitter’s Japan site on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s truly unfortunate. There’s always a sense of sadness when an animal
passes away,” said Mr. Doi, the head of Ueno Zoo, choking away tears at the
press conference. “But this was truly, a very unfortunate passing.”
The baby panda — like the other pandas on loan to Japan from China — would
have eventually been sent to China.
“We lament the loss of the cub and believe the Japanese people who have been
looking forward to the panda’s cub will also lament its loss,” said China
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin, at a press conference Wednesday.