Baby panda Xiao Qi Ji is the National Zoo’s ‘little miracle’

With a name like “little miracle,” the Smithsonian National Zoo’s newly christened baby panda has much to prove — specifically the viability of an entire species.

The three-month-old cub, whose official name is Xiao Qi Ji, a Mandarin Chinese translation of the phrase “little miracle,” was chosen following a contest to select a moniker among a list of four potential names.

After five days and 135,000 votes, Xiao Qi Ji was the clear favorite.

“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,” said zoo officials in a statement. “His name reflects the extraordinary circumstances under which he was born and celebrates the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species.”

While the zoo is closed during the pandemic, zoophiles can drop-in on the baby panda via The Smithsonian’s Giant Panda Cam.

“Like many who have followed our giant panda cub since his birth last summer,” said Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “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.”

When Xiao Qi Ji turns  4 years old, he will be re-homed to his native China as part of a breeding agreement with the US.

There remain only 1,864 giant pandas left on Earth, according to the World Wildlife Federation. After a 17% increase in their population during the past decade, their status was downgraded from “endangered.” However, their relatively low population and slow reproduction rate makes them vulnerable still to decline, and remain closely monitored by conservationists.


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