The Tokyo metropolitan government said Friday it has postponed "returning" a popular female offspring of a giant panda couple on loan from China for another six months until year-end due to transportation difficulties amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Xiang Xiang, born in June 2017 at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in the capital's Taito ward, was supposed to leave for China when she turned 2, but the loan was extended due to her popularity and later because of the pandemic. The new deadline is Dec. 31.

Photo taken on May 9, 2022, shows Xiang Xiang. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Zoological Park Society)(Kyodo)

The female was born to father Ri Ri and mother Shin Shin, a panda couple lent to Japan in February 2011, which means she also belongs to China.

Xiang Xiang is the older sister to twins Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei, born in June last year. The zoo plans to hold a birthday event this year for all three panda siblings born in the same month.

"I would like people of many generations to celebrate their growth," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a press conference on Friday.

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