At present, there are about ten pandas living in Japan, aside from China, it is the second largest country in the world to raise pandas.
There are three pandas in Ueno Zoological Gardens, six in Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama, and one in Kobe Oji Zoo.
On October 27, 1972, the Chinese government donated a pair of pandas “Kang Kang” and “Lan Lan” to Japan for free, and they were raised in Ueno Zoological Gardens. Unfortunately, Kang Kang and Lan Lan failed to breed.
In September 1979, the 10-year-old Lan Lan died of acute renal insufficiency complicated with uremia. When the corpse was dissected, a fetus was found in her uterus.
In January 1980, another female panda, Huan Huan, arrived in Japan from China, but Kang Kang suddenly died of summer flu six months later.
In 1982, Huan Huan welcomed her other half “Fei Fei”.
Still, having a baby was more difficult than expected. On June 27, 1985, their baby “Chu Chu” was born. As the first panda born in Japan, she only lived for 43 hours, as she was crushed by her mother and she died of chest contusion.
In 1986, Fei Fei and Huan Huan gave birth to “Tong Tong”, and three years later, they gave birth to “You You”.
In 1992, You You and the male panda “Ling Ling” from the Beijing Zoo were exchanged. You You returned to China, and Ling Ling went to Japan.
Since then, Fei Fei, Huan Huan and Tong Tong passed away consecutively. In order to find a partner to breed with Ling Ling, the Ueno Zoological Gardens even invited a foreign panda “Shuang Shuang” from Mexico to come to Japan. Still, they failed to breed. After the death of Ling Ling in April 2008, there were no pandas left in Ueno Zoological Gardens.
After three years, Ueno Zoological Gardens finally welcomed in a pair of Chinese pandas – “Li Li” and “Zhen Zhen”. Li Li and Zhen Zhen gave birth to their baby in the second year after arriving in Japan. Unfortunately, this little panda died in only less than a week.
At 11:52 on June 12, 2017, Ueno finally welcomed a baby panda, which marked also the first natural breeding that happened in the zoo. The name “Xiang Xiang” was selected among the 320,000 entries for the cub’s name.
Compared with the difficulties faced by Ueno, Wakayama seemed to be more “prosperous” in this regard. In 1994, China transported a pair of pandas, Yong Ming and Rong Bang to the Wakayama Prefecture, which marked also the beginning of the study of pandas abroad. Yong Ming had successfully reproduced fifteen cubs since he arrived in Japan.
The Kobe Oji Zoo went through an even more difficult experience in breeding pandas. In 2000, China rented two pandas “Dan Dan” and “Xing Xing’, and Dan Dan got pregnant twice. The pregnancy in 2007 became a stillbirth, and in 2008, a cub was born successfully but it died after 4 days.
By 2010, Dan Dan was going through an estrus, and breeders took the semen of Xing Xing artificially. When it was in the process of recovery after the anesthesia, Xing Xing vomited suddenly, and some gastric mucus got into its lungs, which caused its suffocation and death. And now, only Dan Dan was left.