Meet Xiao Qi Ji, the National Zoo’s new “little miracle!”
We have a name folks! Thousands of people participated in what may have been DC’s second most contested election of the year, after the Smithsonian Zoo announced it was opening up a contest to choose the name of their newest furry member. Now, a week later we finally have the results and we’re kind of loving the cub’s new name! We’re also absolutely head over heels with this cute little floofer!
The public has spoken and the three-month-old cub has been bestowed the name of Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), which in English translates into “little miracle.” And a wonderful miracle it is, considering it was conceived through the artificial insemination of mom, giant panda Mei Xiang, the oldest panda to ever give birth in the U.S.
“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,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in a statement.. “Like many who have followed our giant panda cub since his birth last summer, I tune into the Giant Panda Cam from time to time. Watching Xiao Qi Ji always puts a smile on my face. We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub.”
Xiao Qi Ji’s birth has been a bit of cheerful and hopeful news in the midst of a tumultuous year. “Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and Xiao Qi Ji’s birth offered the world a much-needed moment of joy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. His name reflects the extraordinary circumstances under which he was born and celebrates the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species,” reads the Smithsonian’s statement.
The 3-month-old cub is expected to remain at the National Zoo until it turns 4 years old, at which point the young panda will probably move to China as part of the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. The zoo’s current cooperative agreement expires at the end of 2020 according to the Smithsonian, which is already discussing the future arrangements for its giant pandas past December 7.
[Featured image courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo]