McClatchy-TribuneTOKYO --The first panda cub born at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo in 24 years died yesterday of pneumonia, the Tokyo metropolitan government said.

The cub was born last Thursday at the zoo in Taito Ward to Shin Shin, a 7-year-old female giant panda, and 6-year-old male Ri Ri. It was the first panda born at the zoo through natural breeding.

The zoo had been monitoring the cub after reuniting it with Shin Shin in a maternity room around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The zoo said it confirmed the cub's cries around 6:45 a.m. yesterday.

Around 7:30 a.m., however, a zoo attendant picked the cub up from where it was lying on its back on Shin Shin's belly and found it was in cardiac arrest. The cub was moved to an incubator and given cardiac massage, but was confirmed dead around 8:30 a.m.

Zoo director Toshimitsu Doi had stressed that panda cubs need to be watched carefully for at least a week to determine whether it would be able to thrive. In many cases, baby pandas, blind and covered only with downy hair, die several days after birth.

Shin Shin stopped taking care of the cub around midnight Friday, and the cries of the baby, left on the concrete floor of the maternity room, became weaker. A zoo attendant warmed it with a hot water bottle and moved it to an incubator after wrapping it in a towel.

While feeding Shin Shin an apple Saturday morning, zoo staff used a pump to collect her milk to feed the cub. The cub regained its strength when it was given the breast milk through a bottle. Its weight, which was 133 grams Friday, increased Tuesday to 144 grams.

It sometimes happens that a giant panda will stop taking care of its baby. There are also cases in which the tiny baby dies under the large body of a mother panda.

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