Three months after birth, the baby panda at the National Zoo now has a name.
Welcome Xiao Qi Ji, a Mandarin phrase that translates to “little miracle” in English, the zoo announced on Monday.
The name was one of four that the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institute for Conservation Biology asked the public to choose for the lion cub, born August 21 in the habitat of the giant panda family David M. Rubenstein from the zoo.
From her first moments, Xiao Qi Ji had a very public life. His birth was broadcast live, and his growth and milestones were followed by over a million people on the zoo’s Giant Panda Cam. He had a social media follow (#PandaStory and #PandaCubdates) and his own email newsletter.
He had everything, it seemed, except a name.
So last week, members of the public were asked to choose one by voting on the zoo’s website. More than 100,000 people did so, choosing from a list that included three other Mandarin names: Fu Zai (prosperous boy), Xing Fu (happy and prosperous) and Zai Zai (a traditional nickname for a boy, the zoo said. ).
“After five days of voting and just under 135,000 votes, the winning name is Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), which translates to ‘little miracle’ in English,” the zoo said.
“Giant pandas are an international symbol of hope and endangered wildlife, and the birth of Xiao Qi Ji has offered the world a much needed moment of joy amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” said he declared.
Xiao Qi Ji, who weighed just under a pound and a half at 3 weeks old, tipped the scales at 10.4 pounds last week. His name reflects the circumstances in which he was born and the conservation efforts of the zoo and its Chinese partners, the zoo and the institute said.
At 22, her mother, Mei Xiang, is the oldest giant panda in the United States to give birth. Veterinarians from the zoo and scientists from the Institute of Conservation Biology performed artificial insemination using frozen sperm from 23-year-old Xiao Qi Ji’s father, Tian Tian.
“This is the first time that a zoo in the United States has experienced a successful pregnancy and delivery through artificial insemination using only frozen sperm,” the zoo said. The zoo has a breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which means cubs born at the zoo are transferred to China when they reach the age of 4.