Name of zoo’s giant panda cub is going to a vote

How does Bao Bao sound? That’s “precious” or “treasure” in Mandarin Chinese.

How about Ling Hua — “darling” or “delicate flower”?

These are two of the five names that the National Zoo said Tuesday are candidates for the name of its female giant panda cub, and, thus, entry into the annals of Washington panda lore for all time.

Until Nov. 22, panda fans can vote for their favorite name at The cub will receive the name that gets the most votes, the zoo said.

The winning name will be revealed at a ceremony Dec. 1, when the cub is 100 days old.

The National Zoo's giant panda cub has grown and passed several developmental milestones since the panda cams went dark because of the government shutdown, according to zoo officials. (Smithsonian National Zoo)

It is tradition in China to celebrate when a baby turns 100 days old, the zoo said.

The other choices for the name are:

●Long Yun. Long is the Chinese symbol of the dragon, and Yun which means “charming.” Combined, the name represents a sign of luck for panda cooperation between China and the United States, the zoo said.

●Mulan, the name of the 1998 Walt Disney animated movie and a legendary 5th-century female Chinese warrior. The word also means “magnolia.”

●Zhen Bao, which means “treasure” or “valuable.”

The names were nominated by Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States; U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and his family; the keepers of the giant pandas at the National Zoo; the keepers at the Chinese panda center in Wolong; and Friends of the National Zoo.

The cub, born Aug. 23, weighs more than eight pounds, the zoo said, and will make her public debut early next year.

Mei Xiang’s cub, born Aug. 23 and deemed robust and healthy at his first checkup, should follow this basic schedule of panda cub growth.

The cub’s father is Tian Tian, or “more and more,”the zoo said. The mother is Mei Xiang, which means “beautiful fragrance.”

Their first cub, the male, Tai Shan, or “peaceful mountain,” got his name during balloting in 2005, when 200,000 votes were cast.

After serving as the beloved prince of the giant panda compound for five years, he was sent to join a breeding program in China in 2010.

The new cub will do the same once she turns 4, the zoo said. China owns all giant pandas in U.S. zoos.

Mike is a general assignment reporter who also covers Washington institutions and historical topics.


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