Three months after his birth, the National Zoo has a panda cub named.
We welcome Xiao Qi Ji, a Mandarin term that counts as a “little miracle” in English, the zoo announced Monday.
The name was one of four that the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute asked the public to choose from a pup born on August 21 at the zoo’s David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat Zoo.
From the first moments, Xiao Qi Ji lived a very public life. His birth was broadcast live, and his growth and milestones were watched by more than a million people in the zoo’s Giant Panda Camera. He had social media (#PandaStory and #PandaCubdates) as well as his own e-newsletter.
Everything seems to be there, just 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 (flowering boy), Xing Fu (happy and prosperous) and Zai Zai (a boy’s traditional nickname, 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 is translated as” little miracle “in English,” the zoo announced.
“Giant pandas are international symbols of endangered wildlife and hopes, and the birth of Xiao Qi Ji provided the world with a much-needed moment of joy amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Xiao Qi Ji, who was just a pound and a half by the age of 3 weeks, tilted the scales to £ 10.4 last week. His name reflects the circumstances of his birth and the conservation efforts of the zoo and its Chinese partners, the zoo and the institute said.
At the age of 22, his mother, Mei Xiang, is the oldest giant panda in the United States to give birth. Zoo veterinarians and scientists at the Institute for Nature Conservation Biology performed artificial insemination with frozen semen from Tian Tian, Xiao Qi Ji’s 23-year-old father.
“This is the first time that a zoo in the U.S. is experiencing a successful pregnancy and birth with artificial insemination using only frozen sperm,” the zoo said. The zoo has a breeding agreement with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, meaning the puppies born in the zoo are transported to China when they reach the age of 4.