A Ueno Zoo staff points to an image of giant panda Shin Shin holding her newborn cub in her mouth, during a news conference at the zoo in Tokyo, in this Kyodo photo yesterday. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Japanese are truly obsessed with giant pandas. Ever since the first pair, Kang Kang and Lan Lan, settled in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo in 1972, hundreds of thousands of Japanese people's hearts have been captured. To make sure that Kang Kang and Lan Lan would arrive safely, government even sent fighters to escort the panda plane.
In 2011, the arrival of a panda couple, Li Li and Zhen Zhen, stirred a new round of panda mania. Various panda-themed products kept emerging on shelves. The next year, a panda cub was born and the news lifted the Japanese from their grief over the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.
However, the newly-born cub didn't make his first week, which astounded the whole country. The zoo director kept blaming himself and burst into tears during the live news. Crowds of people brought flowers to the zoo to send their condolences.
A Japanese TV station interviewed a panda keeper when two pandas were about to go back to China. Speaking of the leaving pandas, the keeper couldn't stop crying in front of the camera. Pandas were seen off by Japanese people in tears.