Baby panda’s fans think she’s pre­cious

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - ME­GAN MCDONOUGH

THE break­out star of the Na­tional Zoo, a re­cently born fe­male gi­ant panda cub, fi­nally got a name last Sun­day. Mil­lions of peo­ple have tuned into the zoo’s ever-pop­u­lar online “panda cam,” and more than 115 000 peo­ple cast a vote on what the tiny fur ball should be named. She was called Bao Bao.

In keep­ing with the Chi­nese tra­di­tion, the Wash­ing­ton zoo un­veiled the cub’s moniker in a cer­e­mony when she reached her 100th day.

Vot­ers had the op­por­tu­nity to choose from five names: Bao Bao (mean­ing “pre­cious” or “trea­sure”), Ling Hua (mean­ing “dar­ling” or “del­i­cate flower”), Long Yun ( trans­lates to “charm­ing dragon” and rep­re­sents luck for panda co- op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US,) Mu­lan (a leg­endary fifth-cen­tury Chi­nese war­rior and the ti­tle char­ac­ter in a pop­u­lar an­i­mated Dis­ney film) and Zhen Bao (mean­ing “trea­sure” or “valu­able”).

Pamela Red­mond Sa­tran, a cofounder of the baby name web­site, Name­berry, and au­thor of 10 best­selling baby books about the art and sci­ence of baby nam­ing for hu­mans and for pan­das, spoke about what had gone into choos­ing a name.

“I think it has changed a lot over the years. His­tor­i­cally, peo­ple’s choice of names was of­ten dic­tated by re­li­gion or cul­ture,” she said. “For in­stance, Ital­ian fam­i­lies would name the first son af­ter the fa­ther’s fa­ther and the sec­ond son af­ter the mother’s fa­ther. There was a whole pro­to­col.”

Th­ese days, Sa­tran said, a lot of those old rules for choos­ing names had fallen away. There was a new kind of aware­ness of the power of a name to de­fine some­one. “At least who your par­ents are or who your par­ents want you to be. Peo­ple, for in­stance, are look­ing for names that carry per­sonal mean­ing, which might be eth­nic mean­ing or fam­ily mean­ing or some­thing about their val­ues, taste or style,” she said.

How does se­lect­ing a name for an an­i­mal dif­fer from choos­ing a name for a hu­man?

“It doesn’t dif­fer as much as you might think, be­cause most an­i­mals th­ese days ac­tu­ally get hu­man names,” said Sa­tran. “It’s much more likely that you’ll meet a dog named Max or Bella than you’ll meet a dog named Spot.”

She was in­ter­ested that, in the list of names for the Wash­ing­ton zoo panda, all were Chi­nese.

“I think that most of the pan­das that have been named do re­ceive Chi­nese names. I wasn’t sur­prised be­cause they do kind of sound like the names that have been given to other pan­das. There are only a hand­ful of pan­das born, of course. Maybe some­one needs to write a book, “How to Name Your Panda”, be­cause it does seem like a lot of peo­ple put a lot of thought into this,” she said.

“But I do think Bao Bao is pretty cute.” – Wash­ing­ton Post

FURRY: Baby panda Bao Bao at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Zoo in Wash­ing­ton, DC. The cub was named 100 days af­ter be­ing born.

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