Panda gives birth in Japan five years after previous cub died

TOKYO (Reuters) - A female panda gave birth at a Tokyo zoo on Monday, zoo officials said, five years after her first cub was found dead just days after it was born.

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Shin Shin, Ueno Zoo’s 11-year-old giant panda, began pacing her cage and showing other signs of agitation late on Saturday, prompting keepers to keep watch around the clock.

Cries from a cub were heard shortly before noon and it was seen on a monitor soon after.

“We are very happy,” Yutaka Fukuda, deputy head of the zoo told a news conference aired live on public broadcaster NHK.

“The cub is just born, so we would like to carefully watch over the progress of this tiny life.”

The sex of the cub has yet to be determined but its weight was estimated at around 150 grams, and both mother and cub appeared in good health, another zoo official said.

Share prices of companies operating restaurants near the zoo soared after news of the birth on expectations they would benefit from a stream of visitors keen to view the newborn cub.

Totenko Co [8181.T] jumped as much as 38 percent to 290 yen, near a 10-year high, while K.K. Seiyoken [9734.T] climbed 11 percent to 978 yen, its highest since March 2014.

Shin Shin and her partner, Ri Ri, arrived from China in February 2011 and went on view shortly after a devastating earthquake and tsunami the next month, providing some welcome good news for the reeling nation.

The birth of a male cub the following year was the first at Ueno Zoo for 24 years and was greeted with widespread rejoicing. However, the tiny cub was found motionless on its mother’s belly six days later and all efforts to revive it failed.

Panda pregnancies are difficult to confirm scientifically. Zookeepers announced that Shin Shin was possibly pregnant last month and removed her from public view soon after.

Reporting by Elaine Lies and Linda Sieg; Editing by Paul Tait and Joseph Radford