Giant panda cubs at Tokyo zoo given names ahead of public debut

The twin cubs were palm-sized pink creatures when born on June 23.

Giant panda twins born at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in June have been given their names, chosen from hundreds of thousands of suggestions from fans around Japan.

The female cub is Lei Lei and her brother is Xiao Xiao.

The twins, which were palm-size pink creatures when they were born born on June 23, have grown and now have the usual black fur around their eyes, ears and limbs.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike announced the names during her weekly news conference.

She said Xiao Xiao means “the light of dawn turning brighter”, and Lei Lei portrays a bud becoming a beautiful flower and developing a bright future.

“Together, Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei can mean bright dawn leading to the future. I think their names have a very bright image,” she said.

In a short video played by Ms Koike, the siblings in a baby cot cuddled, crawled slowly and went to sleep. “Adorable,” she said, and played the video twice.

(Ueno Zoo/PA)

Like elsewhere in the world, pandas are hugely popular in Japan. Before deciding their names, Tokyo officials even set up a name selection committee.

Officials from the zoo and the Tokyo government chose the names from more than 190,000 entries sent from around Japan and after consulting the Giant Panda National Park in China, which owns the pandas.

They each weigh about 13.2lb — nearly 50 times their weight at birth — and are about 2ft long, according to the zoo.

Ms Koike said the cubs will still be raised inside the zoo but their debut is expected in January when they turn six months old, along with their mother.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access