Finding an appropriate name for one rare giant panda born in captivity is difficult enough, but it’s an even bigger challenge when you have twin pandas. The world can now know the names of the two baby pandas born at Korea’s Everland Zoo to mother Ai Bao and father Le Bao on July 7 this year, roughly three years after the both of their older sister Fu Bao, born in 2020. This cute little duo, born in the natural way without veterinary assistance, will henceforth be known as Lui Bao (睿寶) and Hui Bao (輝寶), meaning “wise treasure” and “shining treasure” respectively.
The names for the twin baby pandas were selected through a competitive process. Thousands of suggestions were received, which were narrowed down to a shortlist. The final round of voting drew 500,000 people cumulatively to choose the most popular pair of names through a variety of online platforms, selecting Lui Bao and Hui Bao as the monikers for the cuddly duo.
The contest began on Aug. 24 and the final poll was held on Oct. 6, with the results being announced on Oct. 12, just a few days before the twins’ 100th day. The high number of online voters, coupled with social media comments wishing health and happiness to the twins and that each will live up to their namesakes as wise and shining treasures, show the enduring popularity of the family of giant pandas at Everland.
100 days of growth
The twin pandas celebrated their 100th day of life on Oct. 15. Baby pandas are born in effect prematurely, usually weighing less than 200 grams and needing constant care to survive. Given the fragility of newborn pandas and the uncertainty of their long-term chances, it is common practice to wait to give them their names until around their 100th day, when they have grown and reached a stable condition. Older sister Fu Bao got her name at around 100 days, too.
At birth Lui Bao and Hui Bai weighed only 180 and 140 grams, respectively. Now, 100 days into life, they both easily weigh more than 5 kilograms, having added more than 30 times their birth weight.
As they grow, young pandas undergo a remarkable transformation – not just in size but also in coloration. When they are born, they almost resemble pink, naked aliens. Soon strands of white fur start to appear, and then the familiar black markings begin to appear around the eyes and ears, and on the limbs from around 10 days of age. As they grow, they start to take on the cute roly-poly, chubby form that people have come to love.
A dedicated crew of helpers
It is not easy taking care of twins. In the wild, panda multiple births often result in only one baby surviving into adulthood. This is partly because of the difficulty of feeding two pandas at once. For that reason, the zookeepers and veterinarians at Everland Zoo, joined by colleagues from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, are putting their best efforts into helping both these twins grow healthy and thrive.
When Ai Bao feeds one of the twins her breast milk, human carers take the other one to a feeding room and feed it by hand. They exchange the little pandas every few days to make sure that both directly receive their mother’s love and care.
From about 4 months old, when the twins can toddle on their own four feet, both will live together with their mother and zookeepers will provide some childcare assistance.
Zookeeper Kang Chul-won, known affectionately as the panda grandfather, expressed his thanks to Lui Bao and Hui Bao for growing this strong and healthy over the last 100 days, and to Ai Bao for being the best mother to the twins.
They’re coming out
Also on the morning of Oct. 12, the day the names of Lui Bao and Hui Bao were unveiled, a select group of privileged panda fans, media reporters, and Everland Zoo staff and executives, the 100-day-old twins were present when the twin panda babies were brought outside for the first time.
Everland Zoo director Chung Dong-hee commented about further exposure to the public by saying, “We will consider showing them to the public through a process of adapting to the outside environment early next year, when the twins have grown enough to follow their mother and more around safely by their own strength.”