The JDP team was as excited as the rest of the country, with the birth of baby giant panda at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. In fact some of us planned to visit the zoo just for the baby. But alas this is not to be. News is trickling in that barely a week after its birth, the baby has succumbed to pneumonia. Zoo officials discovered the lifeless body of the unnamed baby lying on its back against its 7-year-old mother Shin Shin’s stomach.
After almost 24 years of trying and failing, this was the first giant panda birth for the Zoo and it is the only one conceived from natural sexual intercourse. The baby was administered cardiac massage and other treatments but could not be revived. Officials confirmed its death at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. There had been some complications over the weekend with the mother panda not breast-feeding, possibly due to fatigue, but after the cub spent some time in an incubator, things seemed as if they were improving.
The baby’s parents Shin Shin and her mate Ri Ri are a goodwill gesture albeit leased from China at an annual cost of about one million dollars. I don’t know much about the animal behaviour and their mourning process at the loss, but as a parent I can understand the anguish they must feel.