Meet Mei Lun and Mei Huan! The names of these twin male giant panda cubs were announced Wednesday at Zoo Atlanta. Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to the cubs on July 15, 2013. Zoo officials followed Chinese custom and named the brothers after waiting 100 days. Until now, they were simply known as “Cub A” and “Cub B.”
Mei Lun and Mei Huan are the first twin panda cubs to survive in the United States. “We’re delighted to finally be able to place names with two youngsters who have not only made a mark on the history of Zoo Atlanta, but who have also made history in the U.S.,” Raymond B. King, the zoo’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Name that Cub!
Zoo Atlanta teamed up with Good Morning America this month to put the pandas' names to a public vote. China’s Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding provided the choices of names. In just 13 days, 51,000 votes poured in to the show’s website.
The winning names, pronounced may loon and may hwaan, come from the ancient Chinese saying "Mei Lun Mei Huan." The phrase was used to describe buildings that are tall and magnificent. It has come to mean “something indescribably beautiful and magnificent.”
A Playful Pair
Under a deal between China and the U.S., giant pandas originally from China are only loaned to foreign zoos for scientific study for several years. Zookeepers at Zoo Atlanta are giving updates of the twins’ progress in an online blog. They say each of the cubs weighs about 8 pounds and that both are becoming more active every day. The brothers are described as “squeaky” and “squirmy” as they scoot around their nursery. They are playful with each other and have bonded with their mother, Lun Lun. Mei Lun and Mei Huan are the fourth and fifth offspring of Lun Lun and a male giant panda named Yang Yang.
The pandas are expected to make their debut in a U.S. exhibit later this fall. For the past three months, the online world has watched the twins grow strong and healthy. “We share this joy with our colleagues in China and with the cubs’ fans around the world,” King said.