• Kyodo News

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Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo put a pair of giant pandas leased from China on public display Friday, the zoo’s first such viewing since April 2008.

About 3,000 people lined up before the zoo opened at 10 a.m., prompting officials to open 15 minutes early.

The appearance of the male Ri Ri and female Shin Shin coincided with the reopening of the zoo, which closed temporarily after the March 11 quake.

By 11 a.m., the number of visitors reached around 8,000, double the daily average, while a huge crowd surrounded the panda enclosure.

Tokyo artist Minami Fujioka, 22, said she had lined up Thursday afternoon.

“I was relieved to see the pandas being relaxed,” she said. “They lifted my spirit.”

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