TOKYO - Japan's panda-obsessed public got their latest fix of cute on Tuesday as a Tokyo zoo released footage of its 20-day-old helpless cub, who had ballooned in size since its birth last month.
The tiny panda, still without a name, was the first to be born at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo in five years to the delight of animal lovers and local businesses, sparking 'panda fever' in the capital.
Distinctively pink and hairless, the animals typically weighed around 100 grams at birth - small enough to fit in the palm of a human hand.
It could be difficult to determine their sex but the zoo confirmed last month that the newborn was a girl based on pictures sent to a research centre in the shy animal's native China.
At two days old, she weighed just 147g and measured 14.3 centimetres in length, but zoo officials since said she was growing well.
Footage showed the cub resting comfortably on a blanket Sunday, as caretakers conducted a regular health check, with the cub now weighing in at 607.9 grammes and measuring 23.4 centimetres.
The tiny baby also looked increasingly more panda-like, with the trademark black colour around her eyes, ears and feet becoming clearer.
Her eyes remained closed as it usually took about 40 days before panda cubs started seeing things, the zoo said.
In another shot, mum Shin Shin, who just turned 12 on Monday, was seen tenderly holding the baby in her right arm.
Considered an endangered species, it was estimated that fewer than 2,000 giant pandas remain in the wild, in three provinces in south-central China.
Shin Shin, who mated with male Ri Ri in February, had given birth to another cub in 2012 - the first time at the zoo in 24 years - but the baby died from pneumonia just six days later.