Twin panda cubs make debut at Tokyo zoo for devoted fans

Twin panda cubs made their first public appearance Wednesday before devoted fans in Tokyo, but they will be on display only briefly for now - over three days - due to a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant.
The twins, male cub Xiao Xiao and its sister Lei Lei, which were born at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo in June, took their first steps as beaming fans held up their smartphones to film the cuddly pair as they played together.
In a video released by the zoo Wednesday, the twin cubs sit back to back on a tree playing with bamboo while visitors can be heard saying "kawaii (cute)!" in the background. Then the male cub steps on its sister to move up the tree.
"My heart thumped with excitement when I first saw them," said Kirie Tanaka, an avid panda fan who came from the western Japanese city of Osaka for the day.
During her turn, the cubs were pretending to eat bamboo and "that was just adorable," said Tanaka, whose hat and bag were decorated with panda-motif ornaments. "It's so comforting to see them."
The twins, which were palm-sized pink creatures when they were born, now weigh as much as a toddler each and have developed black-and-white fur. They enjoy climbing trees and playing together on the wood chips on the ground, according to the zoo.
In preparation for their debut, the twins and their mother were placed in a shared living quarter where they were exposed to sounds from a radio to get used to noise and voices from visitors.
Twin panda cubs make debut at Tokyo zoo for devoted fans
Visitors queue to see the twin giant pandas Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei and their mother Shin Shin Wednesday at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
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