Baby panda’s fans think she’s precious
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.