City Desk

What’s in a Panda’s Name? You Can Decide!

In the latest chapter of U.S.-China panda diplomacy, the People's Republic seems to have stomached some limited democracy: You can now vote online to determine the name of the National Zoo's beloved baby panda, which is on loan from the Chinese.

The girl cub was born Aug. 23, and following Chinese tradition, she will be given her name when she is 100 days old.

Voters can choose between five different Chinese names. The names were submitted by the U.S. ambassador to China, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., National Zoo giant panda keepers, giant panda keepers from China's Wolong Nature Reserve, and Friends of the National Zoo. The winning name will be announced on Dec. 1.

Here are the five names and their meanings, from the Smithsonian's website:

  • Bao Bao (宝宝) — precious, treasure. (bow-BOW)
  • Ling Hua (玲花) — darling, delicate flower. (ling-HWA)
  • Long Yun (龙韵) — long is the Chinese symbol of the dragon, yun means charming. Combined, this represents a sign of luck for panda cooperation between China and the U.S. (long-YOON)
  • Mulan (木兰) — a legendary young woman, a smart and brave Chinese warrior from the fifth century; it also means magnolia flower in Chinese. (moo-LAHN)
  • Zhen Bao (珍宝) — treasure, valuable. (jen-BAO)

D.C., you may have watched the cub be born, sat on the edge of your seat as the paternity test results were revealed, and now, participated in the naming of the little cub, but don't get too attached: The cub will be returned to China when she turns four.

Photo via the Smithsonian's National Zoo Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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