To Name a Panda

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The Panda Team met this morning to mull over the choice names for our new panda cub. After narrowing the submitted names each day to 5, the short list before us today held about 50 selections for us to consider. We sought the assistance of a staff member who is a native Chinese speaker, in order to ensure we knew the correct pronunciation and meaning of the names.

Once she reviewed the list and helped us eliminate a few (“this one has very feminine connotations” or “this one is awkward in the Chinese tongue”), each Panda Team member was able to eliminate one name outright, for any reason. This left us with about 30 names to work with.

Next, we voted on our top five names. One by one, we went around the room and staff from husbandry, nutrition, education, marketing, and research listed their favorites. From this, there were four clear winners, which went straight to the short list, and a tie for fifth place among several names. We voted again, adding one more name to the short list. Two close runners-up will be used as alternates, should the Chinese reject any of the names on our list of five.

We are now waiting for the Chinese to approve our list. As soon as they do, the short list will be posted for you to vote on. We will have the translation of the names and hope to have an audio clip so you can hear how the names sound when spoken. Things will happen rather quickly now, as we will be naming our little bear at a naming ceremony on Tuesday, November 17.

I cannot tell you what names are on the list, but I can tell you that there was one name that garnered more votes than any other this morning; a clear favorite among the staff. It is up to you to try to guess which name that was when we post the list… and to vote for your own favorite!

Suzanne Hall is a senior research technician for the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.