The People's Choice: Atlanta zoo's cubs are named Mei Lun and Mei Huan

Updated: 2013-10-24 08:18

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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The People's Choice: Atlanta zoo's cubs are named Mei Lun and Mei Huan

Children at Zoo Atlanta celebrating Mei Lun and Mei Huan's 100-day birthday as the cubs' names - chosen in an online nationwide vote - were announced. Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta 

Zoo Atlanta's panda cubs are nameless no more.

Mei Lun and Mei Huan were the names chosen through a nationwide online vote.

The two cubs turned 100-days old yesterday, and in keeping with Chinese tradition, the zoo held a 100-Day Celebration and revealed the bears' names. The names come from a Chinese idiom meaning "something indescribably beautiful and magnificent," the zoo said in a statement.

Earlier this month, ABC-TV's Good Morning America held online voting for the public to choose the names they liked most from among five pairs of names selected by researchers at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. The poll was open for almost two weeks and more than 51,000 votes were cast, the zoo said in its statement.

"We're delighted to finally be able to place names with two youngsters who have not only made an indelible mark on the history of Zoo Atlanta, but who have also made history in the US," said Raymond King, president and CEO of the zoo. "We share this joy with our colleagues in China and with the cubs' fans around the world."

Mei Lun and Mei Huan are the first surviving pair of panda twins born in the US, and they were conceived through artificial insemination. Born on July 15, the two are the fourth and fifth offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang.

The People's Choice: Atlanta zoo's cubs are named Mei Lun and Mei Huan

Zoo Atlanta's newly named giant panda twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan on Wednesday. Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

The cubs will be making their first public debut later this fall in an exhibit at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

"We in Atlanta and Georgia are fortunate stewards of these amazing animals, which are entrusted to our care on loan from China, but there are people around the world who feel a personal stake in their lives," King said on the zoo's website. "Giant pandas have a unique capacity to carry a conservation message, and engaging and uniting their many fans is one way we have of letting that message resonate even more powerfully."

Under an agreement between China and zoos, pandas are on loan for up to a decade, and if they give birth, then the offspring are the property of the Chinese government and must be sent back to the country. Mei Lun and Mei Huan will eventually be returned after they are fully weaned and independent.

Mei Lan, Mei Lun and Mei Huan's older brother, has already returned to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Xi Lan and Po, born after Mei Lan, still reside at Zoo Atlanta.

Po, the last panda born at Zoo Atlanta prior to the arrival of Mei Lun and Mei Huan, was named in 2011 after Jack Black's character in Kung Fu Panda in a similar 100-day celebration.

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