washington zoo panda

This 18 November 2020 handout photo obtained on 23 November 2020 courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, shows the three-month-old giant panda cub. After five days of voting and just under 135,000 votes, the panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is now named Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), which translates as ‘little miracle’ in English.
Handout / Smithsonian’s National Zoo / AFP

In black and white: US zoo’s little giant panda named

The people have spoken: Xiao Qi Ji or ‘Little Miracle’ was one of four Mandarin Chinese names put up for public online vote.

washington zoo panda

This 18 November 2020 handout photo obtained on 23 November 2020 courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, shows the three-month-old giant panda cub. After five days of voting and just under 135,000 votes, the panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is now named Xiao Qi Ji (SHIAU-chi-ji), which translates as ‘little miracle’ in English.
Handout / Smithsonian’s National Zoo / AFP

The votes are in and counted and the giant panda born at the Washington zoo three months ago, is to be named Xiao Qi Ji, or “Little Miracle”, the zoo in the US capital said on Monday 23 November.

Xiao Qi Ji was one of four Mandarin Chinese names put up for public online vote and nearly 135,000 votes were received between 16 and 30 November, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.

“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 amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” the zoo said in a statement. 

The male panda was born on 21 August to Mei Xiang, 22, the second-oldest documented giant panda in the world to give birth.

She was artificially inseminated in March with frozen semen from Tian Tian, 23.

Giant Panda Cam

More than 1.5 million people have tuned in to watch the baby panda and Mei Xiang on the zoo’s Giant Panda Cam.

“Watching Xiao Qi Ji always puts a smile on my face,” said Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. 

“We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub.”

Mei Xiang has now given birth to four surviving offspring.

Panda partnership contract

All cubs born at the zoo move to China when they are four years old under a partnership contract in which China owns the pandas.

The zoo’s breeding agreement with China expires in December and it is currently discussing an extention with the Chinese authorities.

Fewer than 2,000 giant pandas still live in their natural habitat in China, while some 600 more live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, according to the zoo.

The Washington Zoo closed its doors on Monday for an undetermined time because of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

By © Agence France-Presse