International

Panda cubs get their names at Tokyo Zoo, to debut in January

By The Associated Press

Tokyo: Giant panda twins, born at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in June, got their names on Friday – Lei Lei for the female cub and Xiao Xiao for her brother. He was chosen from hundreds of thousands of suggestions sent in from fans across Japan.

The twin cubs, who were palm-sized pink creatures when they were born on June 23, have grown up and now have their unique black and white blocks with dark fur around their eyes, ears and limbs.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announced their names during their weekly news conference. She said that Xiao Xiao means “the light of dawn is getting brighter,” and Lei Lei depicts a bud becoming a beautiful flower and developing a bright future.

“Together, Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei can mean a bright morning leading to the future. I think the image of their name is very bright,” she said.

In a short video played by Koike, siblings hugged in a baby cot, crawling slowly to sleep. “Adorable,” she said, and played the video twice.

Like anywhere else in the world, pandas are extremely popular in Japan. Before their names were finalized, Tokyo officials also formed a name selection committee.

Officials from the zoo and the Tokyo government selected the names from more than 190,000 entries sent from around Japan and after consulting with Giant Panda National Park in China, which owns the pandas.

According to the zoo, the two weigh around 6 kilograms (13.2 lb) – about 50 times their weight at birth – and about 60 centimeters (2 ft) tall.

Koike said panda cubs are still reared inside the zoo, but they are expected to begin in January, when they are 6 months old with their mother panda.

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