Post Now: Zoo bear cubs' names up for vote

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 1:30 PM

The National Zoo's twin Andean bear cubs need names.

Zoo officials have selected names, and the public to vote for a favorite.

Here are your choices, plus a little insight on each name from zoo officials:

For the female cub:

* Caridad: This Spanish name means "charity" and "kindness" and would be fitting for the beautiful female cub.

* Paqarina: This name from the Quechua language means "dawn, daybreak, the beginning of a new day or rebirth -- a new opportunity to live." It is a "new day" for this species to prosper.

* Chaska: This is also a Quechua word, originating in Peru. It is the name of the dawn star; many Andean women in Peru are named Chaska.

* Roraima: This is a popular female name in Venezuela in honor of the beautiful Mount Roraima in the Amazon region. The mountain includes the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.

For the male cub:

* Bernardo: Spanish for "brave like a bear" or "strong, brave bear." Since these bears are found in South America, where the primary language is Spanish, this robust Spanish name is fitting of the zoo's muscular, tough male cub.

* Juco: This name originates from the Quechua language, native of the Andean mountains. A name from this language would be a tribute to the people of that region.

* Churun: This is a popular male name in Venezuela and is also the name of a river that runs through the country. The river feeds into Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world (3,212 feet). The river and falls' beauty and strength reflect the Andean bear -- strong and beautiful.

* Atiq: This is a Quechua word that means "winner" or "the one who achieves." The belief is that the birth and survival of these growing, thriving cubs is a real win and great achievement for the species.

All the names have Peruvian and Venezuelan roots -- a nod to the bears' South American heritage.

The cubs, which were born in January, won't make their public debut until later this spring, but keepers released pictures earlier this month of the pair. (Very cute -- almost Tai Shan-level cute.)

Though they are twins, the cubs are easy to tell apart, keepers say. The male cub has lighter, more defined "eyebrows." The fur surrounding his eyes makes him look like he's wearing glasses.

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