(CTN NEWS) – TOKYO – A popular giant panda born in Japan made her final public appearance on Sunday before taking off for her native China, and thousands of Japanese fans, some wiping away tears, wished her farewell.
For one last glance at Xiang Xiang, the park’s beloved panda since her birth in June 2017, the panda enthusiasts gathered at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo.
2,600 lucky people who got their tickets in a fiercely competitive lottery were the only ones who could watch on Sunday. But, several more contestants appeared to say their goodbyes in front of the panda house.
“Xiang Xiang is engaging and witty in addition to being cute. If you see her once, you’ll want to see her again since she’s so alluring.”
A visitor who only revealed her first name, Yukie, stated, “I don’t think there is another panda like her in the universe. By sharing it, I’ve gained friends around here, and she is drawn to me for the same reason.
Visitors Wait In Line To Bid Farewell Xiang Xiang
Xiang Xiang, whose parents Ri Ri and Shin Shin are on loan from China, must return to that nation despite being born and raised at the Tokyo Zoo.
By sending pandas to other countries as a goodwill gesture, China retains ownership of the animals and any offspring they may have. They are a native species of southern China and serve as an unofficial symbol of the country.
The guests were divided into groups of around ten and given only a few minutes to say their goodbyes softly to Xiang Xiang while she casually nibbled on bamboo sticks. Viewers put out their smartphones and cameras as she moved to record it all.
Takamichi Masui, an auto part manufacturer from Mie in central Japan, said, “I wish pandas born in Japan could remain in Japan.”
“There were a lot of visitors today, and her followers are sad to see her go. I started crying when I saw (Xiang Xiang). Xiang Xiang should stay, but I realize that isn’t easy.”
He expressed concern about Xiang Xiang’s ability to easily transition to her new life in China.
The graphic artist Natsuki Mizuguchi wore socks, shoes, and a parka that were all embellished with photographs of Xiang Xiang’s head that she had taken.
Xiang Xiang Bad Health
Mizuguchi claimed that she initially encountered Xiang Xiang while she was overcoming health problems, but things have since improved.
Mizuguchi remarked, “I wanted to let Xiang Xiang know how much I appreciate him. She will undoubtedly become a national hero in China, and I hope she advances our friendship.”
Her nursing friend Akane Hiramoto claimed that she could not earn a slot on Sunday and that her visit on Saturday was her last.
Hiramoto remarked, “I would love to go meet her in China. “I think pandas like Xiang Xiang and other environmental challenges can help Japan and China’s friendship grow.”
Japanese enthusiasts claim that despite tense political relations between Japan and China, pandas have fostered friendship between citizens of the two nations.
On Tuesday, Xiang Xiang and two Ueno Zoo employees will board a flight to China. In a facility in the province of Sichuan, near to the original panda habitat, she will join other pandas.
Ueno Zoo spokesperson Naoya Ohashi expressed her emotions: “I grew overwhelmed when I witnessed many people crying saying goodbye to her.”
But, there is still one day until her departure, and he promised that “as zoo keepers, we will fulfil our responsibilities and do everything we can to securely transport her to China.”
Ohashi stated, “I hope she will rapidly adapt to a new environment, find a suitable mate, and have children.
To find suitable partners for the twin pandas who are of breeding age, three other pandas from another park, the Adventure World in central Japan, including the elderly male Eimei who was imported from China in 1994 and his Japanese-born twin daughters Ouhin and Touhin, will travel to China on Wednesday.
After the handover, just four female pandas will be left, and the park is looking for a male panda to be delivered from China.
Pandas are still one of the most endangered species in the world since they rarely breed in the wild and only eat bamboo for food. Pandas are thought to number 1,800 in the wild and 500 in zoos or reserves, largely in Sichuan.
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