Panda cub in U.S. zoo named "Bao Bao" 100 days after birth


WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- After a name vote involving global fans, the female giant panda cub at the U.S. Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. on Sunday formally received her name "Bao Bao", which means baby in Chinese.

The zoo released the winning name at the 100-day-old celebration for the cub, which was given birth on Aug. 23 by giant panda Mei Xiang on loan from China.

Bao Bao is one of the five Chinese names offered for a public online vote last month, which drew over 123,000 votes, the zoo said.

In a videotaped message played at the event by the zoo, Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, said pandas are China's "national treasure" and are loved by Chinese, Americans and people all around the world.

She also hailed the successful cooperation in panda protection between China and the United States over the past three decades.

"Mei Xiang's cubs are more than just achievements of the joint efforts of Chinese and American scientists, they also symbolize the loving care of the Chinese and American people and the friendship between them," said Peng in Mandarin.

She recalled "a touching moment" on Jan. 30, 2010 when many Americans, in spite of freezing wind and snow, gathered at the National Zoo to see Mei Xiang's first child Tai Shan off.

"Today's 100-day celebration for Mei Xiang's cub is another testament of the closeness the Chinese and Americans feel at heart, of the dream we share, of our care and love for the planet we call home and of our pursuit of a better life," she said.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama also sent a video message to the naming ceremony.

Calling the cub one of the city's "newest and cutest residents," she recalled how the first pair of giant pandas came to live at the National Zoo shortly after former President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972.

"After decades of close collaboration with our Chinese partners, these remarkable animals stand as a symbol of the growing connections between our two countries," said Michelle Obama.

"But the progress is far more than symbolic -- since those first pandas arrived in America, American and Chinese researchers have worked together to produce groundbreaking biological and ecological research. And most importantly, our two nations have worked hand-in-hand on the crucial and successful effort to save giant pandas from extinction."

Karen Wille, a giant panda fan and a volunteer to help save giant pandas, came to the zoo early Sunday morning to join the celebration for Bao Bao, the little sister of Tai Shan with which her love for the endangered species started.

"I am very passionate with pandas," Wille said, adding that she and her friends have been to China four times and visited Tai Shan.

"They are just incredibly beautiful and magnificent animals that touch our souls and our hearts," she said.

The National Zoo now houses Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, a pair of giant pandas on loan from China that came to the United States in 2000. In 2005, Mei Xiang gave birth to her first cub Tai Shan, which now lives in China. She also gave birth to another female cub in September 2012, which died a week later due to liver failure caused by lung problems.

Currently, there are 15 giant pandas living in four cities across the United States under the Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement between China and the United States.


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