Today was the day for the panda naming ceremony. The little guy born on the 3rd of November has passed his 100 day mark. The ceremony was scheduled for 8 AM, which is uncharacteristically early, especially when the zoo gates typically open at 9:30 AM. But I got up at 6 AM and faced down the morning commute.
The gathering was probably about equal parts zoo staff, media, and general public. There were a couple groups of adorable school children dressed in panda hoodies. And there were several of us hard core panda fans from last winter's deluxe nightcrawler programs. The ceremony included some delightful Chinese dancing first by two little girls and then by young women using ribbons. And there was also the obligatory puppet dragon with its flirting eyes and wiggling ears, alternately delighting and startling the children. Raymond King, CEO of ZooAtlanta, kindly kicked off the ceremony. Governor Deal said a few words. And a representative from Mayor Reed's office also spoke -- the mayor did not attend because he is in Washington, D.C. today to watch Rep. Lewis receive the Congressional Medal of Freedom.
And then came the big reveal.
The special guest was Jack Black. Kung Fu Panda 2 will be released in theaters on 27 May. As the star is a panda, Dreamworks and ZooAtlanta worked out that our new little guy is named Po, in honor of the main character in the movie. I don't know if he'll develop any awesome kung fu moves, but male pandas do have a tendency towards some pretty enthusiastic rough and tumble play.
ZooAtlanta's Po is still behind the scenes, working on moving beyond scooting to actually walking. Po should be making his debut in late March or early April. In the meantime, daddy Yang Yang and big brother Xi Lan were on exhibit. Jack Black shot a promo for Nickelodeon in front of the exhibit yard. Xi Lan (at right) kindly hit his marks by sitting in the background and munching adorably the entire time. What can I say? I'm biased, but I do think we have the best pandas here.