Twins! Giant Panda Gives Birth At Japan’s Oldest Zoo

(Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

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A giant panda at the Ueno Zoo in Japan gave birth to twin cubs Wednesday, presenting the country with another reason to celebrate just one month ahead of the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

A 15-year-old giant panda named Shin Shin that last mated about four years ago birthed the baby pandas within an hour and a half of each other just after midnight Wednesday, according to NBC News.

One of the cubs’ weight was announced to be 124 g (4.37 ounces), while the other’s weight is yet unknown. Each of them is roughly the size of a human palm, as shown in a photo posted by the zoo. At this stage, the newborn pandas’ gender cannot be determined, NBC News reported

“Baby giant pandas are very small when they’re born, so the staff will be watching over them around the clock for a while to make sure they will be growing healthily,” director of Ueno Zoo Yutaka Fukuda said during a press conference, according to CBS News. (RELATED: ‘Little Miracle’: National Zoo Names Newborn Panda)

“It is said that in most cases, when twins are born, only one will grow up. In order to raise both of them, we need to have one panda always be held by Shin Shin. We will have them take turns to nurse while the other one will be in an incubator,” the Japanese zoo’s spokesperson Naoya Ohashi said.

Pandas’ breeding is known to be an extremely challenging process, requiring a perfect alignment of a number of factors for pregnancy to happen. For example, the female pandas are very picky about choosing their mating partners and can enter heat only once a year, according to CBS News.