Panda cub Xiang Xiang to 'work overtime' for Japanese fans

Panda cub Xiang Xiang to 'work overtime' for Japanese fans
PHOTO: AFP

Xiang Xiang, the female giant panda born in Japan last year, will have to "work" four more hours to meet the fanatical Japanese fans as Ueno Zoo in Tokyo extended the cub's viewing sessions to accommodate more public.

The cub has been put on display for five 30-minute sessions daily between 9:45 am - 12:15 pm. The zoo decided to extend the viewing hours to 16:45 pm from February, after judging that the animal was getting more accustomed to the crowd.

After the time adjustment, the zoo is expected to receive close to 10,000 panda viewers each day, fivefold that of the current daily figure. Currently, it accepts 80 groups of up to five people per session, or up to 400 visitors in total.

Xiang Xiang made her first public appearance on Dec 19, becoming the zoo's first cub to debut in 29 years.

The viewers will no longer worry about their chance to meet the panda cub either as the zoo will replace the current competitive lottery draw to "first come, first served" policy, making the tickets more accessible.

The zoo will begin distributing tickets from 9:30 am starting from Feb 1 near its main entrance.

Under the current system, panda lovers need to apply online or by telephone and depend on luck to catch a glimpse of the panda celebrity. With the number of applicants surging, getting a spot has been difficult.

The Ueno Zoo is also considering building a new house by 2020 for Xiang Xiang and her family in the wake of the panda mania.

Xiang Xiang turned seven months old on Jan 12.

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