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Giant pandas help draw 4 mln visitors for Tokyo zoo last year

(Xinhua)

09:21, February 23, 2012

TOKYO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- A pair of China's giant pandas now living in Tokyo helped the Ueno Zoo attract more than four million visitors since their debut in last April.

Officials with the zoo expected the number of visitors to hit about 4.4 million at the end of March, when the 2011 fiscal year ends.

The pair,"Xian Nu" and "Bi Li", had survived the catastrophic March 11 earthquake. They have been a major attraction for the zoo.

They arrived at the Ueno Zoo on Feb. 21 for a 10-year stay under a joint research agreement on the endangered species. Their Japanese names were "Shin Shin" and "Ri Ri" respectively.

The zoo received its first pair of pandas from China in 1972. But Bi Li and Xian Nu were the zoo's first pandas since the 2008 death of Ling Ling.

The number of visitors to the zoo had declined after Ling Ling' s death.

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