The People Name a Panda
Thousands vote on a name for the San Diego Zoo’s youngest giant panda
Zoo officials waited 100 days after the cub was born to give him a name, which is a Chinese tradition. (Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo)
Last week, the people of the United States exercised their right to vote. Their votes determined that President Barack Obama would serve a second term in office. This week, people voted on another very exciting issue: what name to give a baby panda that lives at the San Diego Zoo.
Nearly 35,000 people voted for one of the six possible names for the baby panda on the zoo’s website. Which name won? The majority of voters picked Xiao Liwu (pronounced zhee-ow lee-woo), which means “Little Gift” in Mandarin Chinese.
A PANDA’S CHINESE HERITAGE
The meanings of the other names up for consideration were Miracle, Raindrop, Big Ocean, Brave Son, and Water Dragon.
Xiao Liwu was born to giant panda parents Bai Yun (bye yun), his mother, and Gao Gao (gow gow), his father, on July 29, 2012. At 21 years old, Xiao Liwu’s mom is the oldest known giant panda ever to give birth.
Following Chinese tradition, zoo officials waited until 100 days after the panda cub was born to give him a name. At his naming ceremony on Tuesday, Xiao Liwu weighed 9.2 pounds and was 23 inches tall. When he grows up, the giant panda will probably weigh about 250 pounds and be 4 to 6 feet tall.
Giant pandas are an endangered species. China is believed to have the world’s largest population of the rare bears. About 1,600 giant pandas live in the forests of China’s Sichuan Province, and about 300 of them live in zoos and other facilities.
Xiao Liwu is part of a special program in which China lends pandas to zoos in the U.S. and around the world. Scientists study them and visitors can learn more about the rare animals. The San Diego Zoo is one of only four facilities in the U.S. that houses and cares for giant pandas.