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Japan bids farewell to beloved panda Xiang Xiang

Ueno Zoo star, leaving for China on Tuesday, made life 'richer' for fans and locals

Xiang Xiang was the first giant panda to be born and grow up at the Ueno Zoo since 1988. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society)

TOKYO -- Xiang Xiang, the first giant panda born and raised at Tokyo's Ueno Zoological Gardens in nearly three decades, will be sent home to China on Tuesday after years of delays, in an emotional moment for the fans and staff who watched her grow.

"Xiang Xiang was a much-longed-for baby," said Tadao Futatsugi, honorary chairman of the Ueno Tourism Federation. "She was like a ray of hope for Ueno."

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