It’s time to name the latest furry friends born at John Ball Zoo.
The Zoo is partnering with the local Refugee Education Center on a naming contest for two red panda cubs that were born at John Ball Zoo in July, the second litter from Zoo residents Wyatt and Wasabi.
For the contest, members of the public can vote on names for the male and female cub after making a donation of $1 or more. The contest will run today through Sunday, Nov. 19. John Ball Zoo worked with the Refugee Education Center, which was established in 2006 and provides services for refugees and their families as they resettle in West Michigan, including Nepali and Bhutanese people, to choose some of the names for the cubs.
“We are so excited to get our community involved in the naming of our red panda cubs,” said Rhiannon Mulligan, education manager at John Ball Zoo. “These name options were carefully chosen alongside the Refugee Education Center to reflect the places and cultures where red pandas come from and to spread awareness of where we can continue having a positive impact on wildlife and wild places.”
John Ball Zoo will track votes from the community and announce the names of the cubs when the contest concludes. Voting and donations will take place online. The donations will go toward John Ball Zoo’s mission of preserving wildlife and wild places locally and around the world.
“Refugee Education Center is thrilled that the John Ball Zoo solicited potential names from our Bhutanese & Nepali refugee community who are from the Himalaya region where red pandas are originally found,” said Meg Derrer, executive director of the Refugee Education Center. “We can’t wait to find out what names are picked for these two adorable red panda cubs.”
The name options for the male cub include:
  • Dawa (Da-wa, Bhutanese), meaning “moon”
  • Kancha (Can-cha, Nepali), meaning “youngest member of the family”
  • Karma (Car-ma, Bhutanese), meaning “star”
Name options for the female cub include:
  • Nima (Nee-ma, Bhutanese), meaning “sun”
  • Kanchi (Can-chi, Nepali), meaning “youngest member of the family”
  • Pema (Pee-ma, Bhutanese), meaning “lotus flower”
The two red panda cubs are an important part of helping ensure red pandas continue to thrive, 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.