In a video of the event released by the zoo, the cubs sit back-to-back on a tree playing with bamboo while visitors can be heard saying “kawaii (cute)!” in the background. Then Xiao Xiao steps on his sister to move up the tree.
“My heart thumped with excitement when I first saw them,” said Kirie Tanaka, a panda fan who came from the western Japanese city of Osaka for the day.
During her turn, the cubs were attempting to eat bamboo and “that was just adorable,” said Tanaka, whose hat and bag were decorated with panda-motif ornaments. “It’s so comforting to see them.”
The twins, which were palm-size pink creatures when they were born, now weigh as much as a toddler and have developed black-and-white fur. They enjoy climbing trees and playing together, according to the zoo.
In preparation for their debut, the twins and their mother were placed in a shared living space, where they were exposed to sounds from a radio to get used to noise and voices from visitors.
The zoo has been closed since Tuesday as the omicron coronavirus variant spreads rapidly across Japan. The zoo is open only for the twin panda exhibit until Friday, with 1,080 visitors who won slots in a lottery granted access each day.