On Sunday, December 1st, on her 100th day of life, the National Zoo christened Mei Xiang and Tian Tian’s little girl Bao Bao. Her name means “precious” or “treasure” and was the most popular name chosen by an online poll that collected more than 123,000 votes from around the world.
The 100-day naming ceremony follows Chinese tradition, explained Cui Tiankai, the People’s Republic of China’s ambassador to the United States. “The 100-day celebration is very unique and of special importance,” he said. “It represents the wish that the baby grows up happy and in good health and lives more than 100 years.”
Panda mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) has been caring for her cub in the panda den since she was born Aug. 23. Bao Bao will have her public unveiling early in 2014 but panda keepers said Mei Xiang has indicated she may want to take Bao Bao outside as soon as keepers let her. A live online camera view of Bao Bao revealed she is starting to scoot around, though she can’t yet raise her hind legs to crawl. She has also started mouthing bamboo as her teeth are about to come in.
In addition to the Chinese ambassador, the ceremony featured speeches from the National Zoo’s Dennis Kelly and video presentations from First Lady Michelle Obama and the first lady of China Peng Liyu. Lion dancers entertained the crowds as well.
Proud parents, Tian Tian (left) and Mei Xiang (right).
Karen Wille, a long time supporter/adopter and friend of Pandas International, got to the zoo very early Sunday morning to join the celebration for Bao Bao. Karen was quoted in the China Daily as saying, “I am very passionate about pandas…they are just incredibly beautiful and magnificent animals that touch our souls and our hearts”. Karen’s love of Pandas started with the birth of Tai Shan, who she has been to China four times to visit. And don’t think we don’t see you, Christie Harper, in the background! Christie is another wonderful PI friend and supporter!
Karen, who spent Saturday night putting together gift bags from herself and PI, said that the event went very well. Although her vote for the baby’s name was Ling Hua, she says that she was happy with the choice Bao Bao as it “honors her cultural heritage and what a precious gift she is”.
Photo credits: Bao Bao being measured – Smithsonian National Zoo
; Karen Wille at naming ceremony – Washington Post; all other photos © Karen Wille.