Panda twins born abroad get ‘el­e­gant’ and ‘ happy’ names

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The only gi­ant panda twins in the United States were named Ya Lun and Xi Lun at the cubs’ 100-day nam­ing cel­e­bra­tion on Mon­day at Zoo At­lanta.

Ya means “el­e­gant”, and Xi means “happy”. Lun hon­ors Lun Lun, mother of the twins. To­gether, the names mean “Lun Lun’s el­e­gant and happy daugh­ters”.

The win­ning names are from among seven sets supplied by con­ser­va­tion part­ners in Chengdu, in Sichuan prov­ince. The names Ya Lun and Xi Lun re­ceived over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by panda fans world­wide.

“As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we cel­e­brate the fu­ture of their species to­gether,” said Ray­mond King, pres­i­dent and CEO of Zoo At­lanta.

The twins, who are learn­ing to walk, were not present. They should make their de­but in late De­cem­ber or Jan­uary.

The 100-day cel­e­bra­tion, used for all seven At­lanta-born gi­ant pan­das, is an an­cient Chi­nese tra­di­tion based on hav­ing sur­vived in­fancy. Born on Sept 3, the pair are the sec­ond set of twins for Lun Lun and the sixth and sev­enth off­spring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang.

All gi­ant pan­das at the four US zoos hous­ing them are owned by China, said Rachel Davis, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Zoo At­lanta.

“As part of our loan agree­ment with China, all of the off­spring of our adult pair, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, do even­tu­ally travel to China when they are around 3 years old,” Davis said. She said the new twin cubs also will be sent to China in a few years.

The zoo has con­trib­uted more than $10 mil­lion to the sur­vival of wild gi­ant pan­das. Thanks to con­ser­va­tion ef­forts in China and at in­sti­tu­tions around the world, the In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture down­graded the gi­ant panda’s sta­tus from en­dan­gered to vul­ner­a­ble in Septem­ber.

How­ever, the species re­mains heav­ily re­liant on con­ser­va­tion pro­grams. Fewer than 1,900 gi­ant pan­das are es­ti­mated to re­main in the wild in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu prov­inces.

Xie Fei, cul­tural con­sul from the Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Hous­ton, at­tended the cer­e­mony and praised Zoo At­lanta for its ef­forts.

“The zoo has over the years pro­vided valu­able sup­port and ex­per­tise for the con­ser­va­tion of the gi­ant panda and its habi­tats in China, which is highly ap­pre­ci­ated by the Chi­nese govern­ment and peo­ple. The gi­ant panda pro­gram ex­em­pli­fies the China-US co­op­er­a­tion.”

PRO­VIDED BY ZOO AT­LANTA

Right: Gi­ant panda twins born in the United States are named Ya Lun (left) and Xi Lun at their 100-day cel­e­bra­tion on Mon­day at Zoo At­lanta. Their mother Lun Lun, from top left, checks the twins on Sept 3 after their birth. By Sept 9, they have started to grow hair, and by Oct 10 they have be­gun to look more like their cur­rent selves.

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