The giant panda cub of the National Zoo officially has a name. On Monday, the DC zoo revealed the 3-month-old panda cub's name after a voting period.
The panda cub's new name is Xiao Qi Ji (pronounced SHIAU-chi-ji), a Mandarin Chinese name that translates to "little miracle" in English.
According to the Smithsonian Institute in a press release, the naming came after five days of online voting wherein 100,000 people cast ballots.
The mother panda of Xiao Qi Ji, Mei Xiang, was artificially impregnated on March 22 from its father, Tian Tian.
The zoo welcomed the cub on August 21 and referred to him as "our little guy" before its official naming.
According to the zoo, the name "reflects the extraordinary circumstances under which he was born and celebrates the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species," reported People.
The name was one of four Mandarin Chinese names among the selection for the public online vote on November 16 to November 20 on the zoo's website.
Giant pandas are a global symbol of endangered wildlife and hope. Xiao Qi Ji's birth reportedly offered the world a much-needed moment of joy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
The announcement arrived on the same day the National Zoo and numerous Smithsonian museums will close again indefinitely due to a recent spike in novel coronavirus cases in the DMV region.
The name depicts the exceptional circumstances under which he was born. It celebrates the cooperation among colleagues who strive to conserve these species.
According to Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars, Directors of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, "Connecting people around the world with nature, whether in person or in this virtual setting, is a cornerstone of our mission to conserve and protect giant pandas for future generations. Like many who have followed our giant panda cub since his birth last summer, I tune in to the Giant Panda Cam from time to time. Watching Xiao Qi Ji always puts a smile on my face," reported WJLA.
They added, "We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub."
The names in consideration for the male panda cub were: Xing Fu 幸福 (happy and prosperous), Fu Zai 福仔 (prosperous boy), and Zai Zai 仔仔 (a traditional Chinese nickname for a boy).
All three options from the selection depicted Xiao Qi Ji's birth's remarkable condition amid the coronavirus pandemic wherein the zoo was closed to the public for much of the year.
Xiao Qi Ji was born on August 21. However, as of November 9, he weighed 9.2 pounds and had a height of 21.3 inches.
The breeding of giant pandas is reportedly difficult. The cub's mother, Mei Xiang, 22, is the oldest panda known to have successfully given birth in the US. Hence the regard for this birth as a miracle.