Giant panda cub Xiang Xiang celebrates 1st birthday at Tokyo's Ueno zoo

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TOKYO, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Giant panda cub Xiang Xiang celebrated her first birthday Tuesday at Ueno zoo in Tokyo, where she has become the zoo's most beloved attraction.

A year ago to the day, Xiang Xiang was born through natural conceptual to her parents Fairy and Billy (Japanese name Shin Shin and Ri Ri).

Since her days as a baby cub, Xiang Xiang has been enjoying eating apples and climbing trees everyday at the zoo as her throngs of adoring visitors look on.

"She has been growing very smoothly. We want visitors to continue to warmly watch over her development," a spokesperson for the zoo said.

During the day, the birthday girl was seen playing on a hammock that was handmade for her by staff at the zoo especially for her 1st birthday.

The energetic Xiang Xiang seemed delighted with her birthday gift and bounded around her enclosure, climbing trees and bars energetically.

Just before Xiang Xiang's birthday, the zoo lifted the maximum number of visitors allowed to see her per day from 9,50 to 15,000.

Official photo albums of the cute bundle of fur were also available to mark this most auspicious occasion and 15,000 commemorative cards will be given to visitors through Sunday in celebration of Xiang Xiang's health and vitality over the past year.

Two days after Xiang Xiang was born, she weighed just 147 grams. According to the latest measurement taken on June 5, she now weighs 28.2 kilograms.

After receiving suggestions from the public, the giant panda cub was named Xiang Xiang, which means "popular" in Chinese.

Such is the popularity of Xiang Xiang that 870,000 people have visit her since Dec. 19, helping the zoo to attract more than four million visitors for the first time in six years.

Her cute and vibrant antics have even garnered her a sizable online following, with viral footage of the panda running and playing watched by 35 million viewers between mid-December and early June.

Xiang Xiang's parents first came to Japan from China in 2011 under a 10-year lease agreement and Xiang Xiang is the first panda to be born and raised at the zoo in five years.

Xiang Xiang's return to China will be discussed after she turns two years old, as at that time she will be more independent from her parents.