Ya means "elegant," Xi means "happy," and Lun refers to the
fluffy black-and-white bears' mother, Lun Lun. The names were
announced on the 100th day after their Sept. 3 births, in line
with Chinese tradition, Zoo Atlanta said in a statement.
The names were the winning combination from among seven sets
supplied by the zoo's partners in China. Ya Lun and Xi Lun
earned just over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by
panda fans globally from Nov. 21 to Dec. 4.
"As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we celebrate the
future of their species together," Zoo Atlanta Chief Executive
Officer Raymond King said.
Although the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
downgraded the giant panda's status to "vulnerable" from
"endangered" in September, the species still relies heavily on
conservation programs, the zoo said.
Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain in the
wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. They are
threatened by habitat fragmentation and loss as a result of
deforestation and other human activities, the zoo said.
Ya Lun and Xi Lun are the second set of twins for Lun Lun and
male Yang Yang, and the pair's sixth and seventh offspring.
Their older brothers and sisters, male Mei Lan, male Xi Lan,
female Po and female twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan, live at the
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
The pandas did not attend a ceremony announcing their names
since they are still learning to walk. Ya Lun and Xi Lun are
expected to make their debut in late December or in January.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Daniel
Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)
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