November 10, 2005

San Diego Giant Panda Cub Named Su Lin

LOS ANGELES -- A giant panda cub born at the San Diego Zoo earlier this year will be named "Su Lin," after the first Giant Panda brought to the United States in 1936, Zoo officials said on Thursday.

The name was chosen by 44 percent of the more than 70,000 voters who participated in an online poll and bestowed on the cub 100 days after she was born, in keeping with Chinese tradition, Zoo spokesman Don Lindburg said.

Su Lin means "a little bit of something very cute," in Chinese, Lindburg said.

"Between the arrival of the first Su Lin in our country in 1936 and the birth of the second (Su Lin) in 2005, history has not been kind to pandas, with only about 1,600 individuals left in the world today," he said.

"But like the two cubs born here before her, the new Su Lin dramatizes the importance of working to make the world more secure for wild populations," he added.

The cub is only the second giant panda cub to be born in the United States this year and one of the few of the endangered species in captivity to be born naturally. A male was born at Washington's National Zoo in July.

Thirteen-year-old mother Bai Yun, on loan from China, was originally carrying twins but one of the fetuses died in the womb. Giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed because they are normally solitary creatures and the female is fertile only 3-5 days a year.

Under the agreement with China, the new cub will be sent to China when it is 3-years-old.