Photo/Shetuwang-501653859 (unrelated to text)
The hot spring town of Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture, southwest Japan, is famous not only for its white beaches, but also for a special animal family that lives in the local leisure park Adventure World -- giant pandas from China.
The giant pandas play a unique role in strengthening people-to-people exchanges between China and Japan and also in rare animal protection and research.
The Adventure World on Monday held a birthday party for Fuhin, the youngest member of the giant panda family.
The staff workers set up decorations and handed out birthday presents for Fuhin -- "Happy Birthday" blocks made of local wood, and ice cubes in the shape of maple leaf and the number "1".
According to the park, the name "Fuhin" conveys hope that the baby panda will be as beautiful as maple trees in autumn and grow up happily amid love and care from people.
At 9 a.m. local time on Monday, the one-year-old girl Fuhin was carried into the playground. She walked around the presents, sniffing and touching the blocks. She was full of curiosity and finally pushed the blocks down.
The park broadcast Fuhin's birthday party online, attracting a large number of panda fans to watch. The park also distributed 2,000 folders with Fuhin's photos and pamphlets to visitors to share the joy over the little creature's growth.
China's giant pandas are loved by people around the world. When Fuhin was born last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a special message wishing she will bring happiness to the Japanese people and become a witness of China-Japan friendship.
Chinese Consul General in Osaka, Xue Jian came to Fuhin's first birthday party and handed over to the park a "Goodwill Ambassador" card inscribed by Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou, saying that the giant panda is also a diplomat and an ambassador for people-to-people exchanges.
In 1972, the giant panda pair Kang Kang and Lan Lan came to Japan and set off a craze in the country. Nearly 50 years later, the Japanese public's fascination with giant pandas still persists. On Monday, a downpour did not affect people's enthusiasm. As soon as the park opened in the morning, a long queue formed in front of the giant panda pavilion. Throughout the town, giant panda images can be seen in various places.
All the 17 panda cubs born at different times at the Adventure World park have a "hin" in their names. They represent the largest captive giant panda population overseas. Eleven pandas born here have been sent back to China as agreed on in contracts. The park said the achievement was made possible by 27 years of international research cooperation with China's Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
When Fuhin was born in 2020, researchers at the Chengdu research base were unable to travel to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation made Fuhin the first giant panda cub delivered independently by the Japanese staff of the park.
Fuhin has grown from 157 grams at birth to 28 kilograms, and local panda fans are delighted to see the fluffy cub snuggling in her mother's arms at the birthday party.
According to Koji Imazu, the park's director, for Fuhin's birth last year they made meticulous preparations through the Internet, including getting instructions from Chengdu researchers and exchanging information online in real time for advice.