Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo
By Joshua Gardner, ABC News
The San Diego Zoo's giant panda habitat welcomed an addition back in
July, but the now 14-week-old cub remained without a name until now.
Today the male cub got a name: Xiao Liwu, meaning "little gift."
Going so long without naming newborns is common in the giant panda
world, where, according to Chinese tradition, the cuddly black-and-white
cubs aren't named until they've made it past the 100 day mark alive and
That day was Nov. 4 for Xiao Liwu, but zoo officials have since had
to narrow 7,000 names submitted by the public to a just few finalists.
"Participants had to submit names in pinyin and give the meaning in
English," Jenny Mehlow, part of the zoo's public relations team, told
ABCNews.com, "Then, after weeding out the silly ones, like 'Oreo,' we
chose six finalists."
In addition to Xiao Liwu, those finalists were: Qi Ji, which means
"miracle'"; Yu Di, which means "raindrop"; Da Hai, which means "big
ocean" or "big sea"; Yong Er, which means "brave son"; and Shui Long,
which means "water dragon."
Through the zoo's website, panda fans again got to cast their votes, 35,000 of them, for which of the names they liked most.
As of Tuesday morning, the people had spoken, and Xiao Liwu's name
was unveiled at the San Diego zoo and live streamed to thousands of
viewers on the web.
San Diego's zoo is one of only four in the United States that keep
the endangered species. The giant pandas are loaned to the U.S. from
China, where, because of habitat encroachment by humans, a mere 1,600
pandas are believed to remain in the wild.
According to Mehlow, helping raise pandas like Xiao Liwu allows zoos
to better understand the rare animal's behavior, ecology, genetics and
"This is our sixth cub at the San Diego zoo," Mehlow said, "and we still have much more to learn about this species."