Ovation: Name That Panda!
My family has had many pets over the years and it was recently pointed out to me that I’m the only person who has ever had the privilege of assigning a name to one of our furry companions. Our horses already had names when they came to be ours and our dogs had identities to suit their personalities when we rescued them. When we bought our backyard chickens I was quick to shout out names that were, apparently, perfect in every way. I believe that assigning a name to an animal friend is an important step in the training, bonding and learning relationship between all parties involved.
Last August, giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub at the National Zoo. The baby girl panda’s first few months have been watched by thousands on the zoo’s incredibly popular “panda cam”. The cameras were there as she get her first check-up and when she learned to crawl. She developed quite a fan base as she grew from a little white fuzz ball into a puppy-like cub with the recognizable panda markings on her fur. And now the zoo is asking the public to name her.
In keeping with Chinese tradition, the little cub will be given a name as part of a ceremony when she turns one-hundred days old on December 1st. Also in keeping with Chinese tradition, the zoo has provided five potential names for America’s panda sweetheart from which fans can choose.
- Bao Bao (bow-BOW), meaning precious, treasure
- Ling Hua (ling-HWA), meaning darling, delicate flower
- Long Yun (pronounced long-YOON), combining Long, the Chinese symbol of the dragon, and yun, which means charming. Combined this represents a sign of luck for panda cooperation between China and the U.S.
- Mulan (moo-LAHN), a legendary young woman, a smart and brave Chinese warrior from the fifth century; it also means magnolia flower in Chinese
- Zhen Bao (jen-BAO) meaning treasure, valuable
Panda fans from around the world are being asked to vote for their favorite name on the Smithsonian website until November 22nd. More than two hundred thousand people voted to name Tai Shan, the giant panda cub born in 2005.
The new cub is part of the successful giant panda partnership between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Her successful birth is the result of many scientists’ ongoing dedication to understanding these beautiful bears in order to ensure a healthy future for them and their natural habitat.
I’m not going to vote. I don’t want to be accused of naming ALL the animals!
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