A naming ceremony for the history books just took place in Toronto. The first giant panda cubs born in Canada have officially been named Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue.
The twins were born at the Toronto Zoo on October 13, 2015, and have become instant stars. On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helped unveil the twins’ names, which pay homage to their birth country while keeping true to their Chinese heritage. The slightly older male cub is named Jia Panpan, meaning “Canadian hope,” and the female cub is named Jia Yueyue, meaning “Canadian joy.” Er Shun, the mother of the cubs, is on loan from China as part of a long-term conservation partnership.
The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to the National Zoo, about 1,600 giant pandas are left in the wild.
The zoo opened up voting to the public last month to help it name the young cubs. A naming committee made up of representatives from the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto and the Toronto Zoo compiled a list of seven name combinations to vote on.
“Giant pandas are considered a national treasure in China, and I am confident everyone will embrace Canada’s first giant panda cubs,” Ming-Tat Cheung, president of the Chinese Cultural Centre, said in a news release.
The giant panda cubs have been in a special maternity area since their birth and will make their debut to the public on March 12.