The only Giant Panda twins in the U.S. are now no longer known by the identifying letters A and B. Zoo Atlanta’s female cubs can now be called by their new names: Ya Lun and Xi Lun.
The names were recently revealed at the twins’ 100-Day Naming Celebration on December 12, 2016, at Zoo Atlanta.
The winning names came from among seven sets of names supplied by the Zoo’s conservation partners in Chengdu, China. The names Ya Lun (Cub A) and Xi Lun (Cub B) earned just over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by Panda fans around the world, in the Zoo sponsored contest, from November 21 to December 4.
Ya means “elegant,” and Xi (pronounced shee) means “happy.” Lun (loon) references daughters of Lun Lun. Together, the monikers mean “Lun Lun’s elegant and happy daughters.”
“We’re thrilled to announce two beautiful and meaningful names for two healthy, thriving, 100-day-old Giant Panda cubs. This is a celebration we share with the City of Atlanta, our longtime partners at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, and with our Zoo Atlanta family, which includes friends and fans from around the world,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we celebrate the future of their species together.”
The 100-Day Celebration, which has been followed with all seven Atlanta-born Giant Pandas, is an ancient Chinese tradition that holds that when a child reaches the 100th day of life, he or she has survived the fragility of infancy and may be considered on track for a successful future.
Ya Lun’s and Xi Lun’s festivities opened with a performance by the Wesley International School Choir. Remarks followed from Raymond B. King; Xie Fei, Culture Counselor from the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Houston, Texas; and Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions at Zoo Atlanta.
Banners bearing the new names were revealed by the Zoo Atlanta’s Giant Panda care team, and were followed by a celebratory traditional lion dance by the Chien Hong School of Kung Fu.
The animal guests of honor were not present to meet their fans; the duo is still learning to walk. Ya Lun and Xi Lun are expected to make their public debut in late December 2016 or January 2017.
Fans can take a peek at the pair on the Zoo’s “PandaCam” (hosted by Animal Planet L!VE) at: www.zooatlanta.org/pandacam .
Ya Lun and Xi Lun play important individual roles in one of Zoo Atlanta’s longest conservation collaborations. Giant Pandas represent the Zoo’s most significant financial investment in wildlife conservation, with over $10 million contributed in sustained support for wild Giant Pandas.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from “Endangered” to “Vulnerable” in September 2016, but the species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs. Fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, where they face continuing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities. More than 1,200 of China’s remaining wild Giant Pandas live inside nature reserves, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.
Born September 3, 2016, the twins are the second set of twins for Lun Lun and the sixth and seventh offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang. Their older brothers and sisters, male Mei Lan, male Xi Lan, female Po and female twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan, now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
Visit www.zooatlanta.org to learn more about their Giant Panda program or to plan a visit.