National Zoo names baby panda, injects cuteness into national media

Oh my gosh sooo cutteeeeeee.

The National Zoo’s pandas have gone through a lot this year. The panda mother Mei Xiang went into labor and gave birth to a female cub. For a while nobody knew who the cub’s father was. They (and Vox, who can never pry his eyes away from the panda cam) have also braved the government shutdown.

On Sunday, the Zoo revealed that her name would be Bao Bao, which means ‘precious’ or ‘treasure’ in Chinese during a ceremony with lion dancers and Chinese food celebrating the cub’s 100 days of life.

From Nov. 5 to Nov. 22, the National Zoo invited the general public to choose between five possible names—Bao Bao, Ling Hua, Long Yun, Mulan, and Zhen Bao—for the cub on its website. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, China Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai, the China Conservation and Research Center, and the National Zoo were the masterminds behind the names. Bao Bao was the name choosing after the Zoo counted the more than 123,000 votes submitted. According to Chinese tradition, pandas receive a name when they are 100 days old.

During the ceremony, Michelle Obama declared that Bao Bao symbolized the growing relations between the U.S. and China. In any case, Vox was a tad disappointed that the Zoo did not choose Mulan to be the panda cub’s name; the cub could have auditioned for a future live-action, much cuter adaptation of the Disney movie of the same name.

China retains ownership of all foreign-born panda cubs, so Bao Bao will live in Sichuan, China after she turns four years old.

Photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo via Flickr

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