December 19, 2017 / 6:12 AM / in 10 months

Lucky lottery winners get first peek at Japan's baby panda

TOKYO (Reuters) - The lucky winners of a Japanese lottery got their first live glimpse of baby panda Xiang Xiang on Tuesday, but others had to settle for watching the six-month-old cub and her mum on video livestreamed by the capital’s Ueno Zoo.

Female giant panda cub Xiang Xiang (L) walks beside her mother Shin Shin (R) at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo on December 19, 2017. Xiang Xiang appeared to the public the first time at the zoo. REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool

The zoo’s longest-surviving baby panda in nearly three decades munched bamboo and cuddled with her mother, Shin Shin, while adoring visitors squealed, “She’s cute,” and took pictures with smartphones before being hustled out.

Visitors carrying a daypack featuring giant panda wait for the public debut of female baby panda Xiang Xiang, born from mother panda Shin Shin on June 12, 2017, at the first day of her public debut at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo, Japan December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“For me, the panda is the king of the zoo,” said Takamichi Masui, 50, who queued nearly three hours to be the first person to see Xiang Xiang.

The healthy female cub was born in June, five years after her mother lost another cub within days of its birth.

Xiang Xiang, whose name is written with the Chinese character for ‘fragrant’, was small enough at birth to fit in the palm of a hand. She now has typical panda markings and weighs around 12 kilograms (26 lb).

More than 18,000 people applied for 2,000 lottery slots to see the panda on Tuesday, NHK public TV said. There are 144 applicants competing for each available slot on Dec. 23, the first public holiday when Xiang Xiang may be viewed.

Reporting Megumi Lim, Linda Sieg and Olivier Fabre; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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