Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Cub is Named Xi Lan

After weeks of excitement, anticipation and a suspenseful month collecting ballots from over 45,000 voters around the world, Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Dennis Kelly announced that the new giant panda cub has been named Xi Lan. The winning name, which means “Atlanta’s Joy” in Chinese, was submitted by the Zoo’s Board of Directors and was one of 12 finalists
suggested by members of the Zoo family and extended family.

Joining the cub’s 100 Day Naming Celebration were Liu Dewang and He Chao of the China State Forestry Administration; Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle; Greg Pridgeon, Chief of Staff of the Office of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; Fulton County Commissioner, Lynne Riley, Xie Xhong, Secretary General, Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens; and Xia Zhenglin and She Yi of the Chengdu Research Center of Giant Panda Breeding.

“Zoo Atlanta is delighted to share this historic moment with the citizens of Atlanta, the State of Georgia and our friends, partners and colleagues in the People’s Republic of China,” said Kelly. “The name Xi Lan is a proud and fitting reminder of our cub’s birthplace, but his birth also serves as a global tribute to the true power of partnerships in determining the future of giant pandas and other species around the world.”

The announcement was preceded by an authentic Chinese dragon dance – performed to bestow good luck on the new arrival and on the 100 Day proceedings – and a live rendering of the traditional Chinese song “Panda Mimi” by young members of China Children Adoption International. A throng of Zoo Members, guests and giant panda fans waited anxiously as Kelly, joined by Lieutenant Governor Cagle, Pridgeon and Chinese officials, unveiled the cub’s new name.

While “Atlanta’s Joy” clearly expresses the City of Atlanta’s and State of Georgia’s excitement and pride in Xi Lan, the cub’s birth was also an occasion of great celebration for Zoo Atlanta’s colleagues in China, where the species is considered a national treasure and a symbol of the conservation of endangered wildlife.

Shortly after the unveiling, Zoo Atlanta Board of Directors member Mark Roberts informed the crowd of another exciting surprise. When voting began on November 3, Zoo officials announced that the individual or organization responsible for submitting the winning name would win a private reception for 50 at the Zoo, accompanied by an exclusive viewing of the cub. As the organization behind submitting the name Xi Lan, the Zoo’s Board of Directors elected to donate their special prize to the children and families of China Children Adoption International.

Born on August 30, the 100-day-old cub was the only giant panda born in the U.S. in 2008, and he is one of only 31 born in the worldwide survival colony this year. He is the second offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang and the younger sibling of the world-famous Mei Lan, born September 6, 2006. Zoo Atlanta expects Xi Lan to make his official public debut in January.

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