• Kyodo

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A giant panda cub at a Tokyo zoo appears to be in good health, crying loudly while being gently held by its mother, the zoo said Tuesday, one day after the cub was born.

“(The cub) cries vigorously and we saw it suckling the mother panda’s breasts four or five times last night,” an official at Ueno Zoological Gardens said.

Its mother, Shin Shin, has been holding her cub to keep it warm, even though she appears tired from lack of sleep and going without food or water, said the zoo’s director Yutaka Fukuda. The zoo has not yet been able to confirm whether the cub is drinking its mother’s milk, he said.

The zoo has not checked the newborn’s sex or its exact weight as 11-year-old Shin Shin has held the cub continuously since giving birth Monday morning.

“Shin Shin looks calm when tending to her baby as it is her second time giving birth,” Fukuda said. “We will be relieved if we can confirm that the cub is drinking its mother’s milk.”

For the time being the zoo will monitor the cub around the clock, since the health of newborns is unstable in the days following birth. Shin Shin’s previous cub died in 2012, less than a week after birth.

Shin Shin and her male partner Ri Ri were seen mating in February.

Tuesday saw Ri Ri in public view for the first time since the cub was born, as the zoo is closed on Mondays. A sign asking visitors to keep quiet was posted near the restricted area housing Shin Shin and the newborn cub.

“I want to see the baby soon,” said 34-year-old Yoko Tahira from Shizuoka Prefecture, who visited with her 1-year-old son, Ryota.

“Let’s visit the zoo again when the cub is in public view,” she told her son.

Stores near Ueno Zoo are cashing in on the festive event, launching sales to celebrate the birth.

In the Ameyoko shopping district, Maruyasu Shoten will put raisins and almonds on sale at discounts of up to 50 percent.

“When the pandas first came to Japan 45 years ago, many tourists came to visit, boosting business here. We’re counting on it again,” said Yoshihiko Fukazawa, 63, who heads Maruyasu Shoten.

At Matsuzakaya department store’s Ueno outlet, giant panda balloons have been placed on rooftop to lure shoppers. The Ueno outlet kicked off its panda birthday sale on Monday.

“We hope visitors who come to Ueno for the first time can enjoy their visit,” said Mitsunori Nomura, 35, who is in charge of sales strategies.

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