John Ball Zoo’s adorable red panda cubs officially have names given to them by the community.
For the last month, the public has been voting on names for the male and female red panda cubs born in July by parents Wyatt and Wasabi. The names receiving the most votes were: Dawa, meaning “moon” for the male cub, and Nima meaning “sun” for the female cub.
“We are thrilled to introduce Dawa and Nima and are so excited to watch them grow and thrive at John Ball Zoo,” said Rhiannon Mulligan, education manager at John Ball Zoo. “We are also proud that the names of these cubs reflect the places and cultures where red pandas come from, which helps spread awareness about the wildlife and wild places we can continue preserving around the world.”
John Ball Zoo partnered with the Refugee Education Center, which provides services for refugees and their families as they resettle in West Michigan. Potential names were submitted by the Bhutanese and Nepali refugee community, people who are from the Himalaya region where red pandas are originally found.
Dawa and Nima recently moved into their outdoor habitat and delighted Zoo guests during the final weeks of the Zoo’s 2023 season.
The two red panda cubs are an important part of helping ensure red pandas continue to thrive in the wild as the species’ global population has declined by 50% over the last two decades. Expanding the population with the birth of red panda cubs is part of the Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, John Ball Zoo’s accrediting organization.