South Korea welcomes birth of first giant panda twins

By AFP   July 11, 2023 | 08:16 pm PT
South Korea welcomes birth of first giant panda twins
Giant panda Ai Bao gently holds one of her newly born female twin pandas in her mouth. Photo handed out via AFP
A South Korean zoo has announced the birth of two giant panda twins - the first to be born in the country - triggering an outpouring of excitement online.

The female twins were born at the Everland theme park near the capital Seoul on Friday, the zoo revealed in a video posted on its YouTube channel.

The video, uploaded Tuesday, shows the mother, Ai Bao, in labor, rolling around her cage before giving birth to two tiny panda cubs.

The first twin weighed 180 grams and the second 140 grams, the zoo said.

"Both the mother and the twin pandas are in good health," a representative from the zoo said in a statement.

"Ai Bao is taking good care of her cubs, putting her experience with Fu Bao to use."

Fu Bao, born in July 2020, is the twins' older sister and the first giant panda born in South Korea through natural breeding.

The YouTube video of the twins' birth has garnered 640,000 views since it was uploaded, with viewers gushing about the arrival of the cubs.

"Welcome to the world, sweet babies! Congrats to the Bao family and thanks to the grandpas and all the staff taking care of them," wrote one viewer.

Another commented: "Tears keep on running from my eyes because I'm so proud of Ai Bao! Well done, Ai Bao!"

Ai Bao and Le Bao, the father, arrived in South Korea in 2016 as a state gift from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China has long deployed "panda diplomacy", gifting the animals to various countries, often to further its foreign policy aims.

Beijing only loans pandas to foreign zoos, which must usually return any offspring within a few years of their birth to join the country's breeding program.

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