Berlin Zoo has ignored calls to name its panda cubs Hong and Kong in support of ongoing protests. Instead, its first panda cubs have been given more traditional names.
Berlin Zoo unveiled its panda cubs on Monday, finally revealing their names and gender.The cubs were born 100 days ago when their mother Meng Meng gave birth on August 31.
The cubs, both male, were named Meng Yuan and Meng Xiang, translating roughly to Fulfilled Dream and Desired Dream.
The naming process drew controversy after the names Hong and Kong topped a German newspaper poll, in support of ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
China famously uses the animals in their so-called ‘panda diplomacy' soft power program.Berlin mayor Michael Müller and Chinese ambassador Wu Ken revealed the details in a joint ceremony.
The cubs now weigh almost 6 kilograms (13 pounds) and have been practicing walking, with a few hiccups. At birth they weighed just 186 and 136 grams.
The baby pandas will remain hidden from the public until early next year, once they start walking properly.
Berlin Zoo is the only German zoos in possession of the rare folivores. All of Berlin's pandas are on loan from China, at a cost of about $1 million (€900,000) a year for the adults, which should be reinvested in China's succesful panda breeding program.
Meng Meng has been living with her partner Jiao Qing in an almost €10-million enclosure since summer 2017. This was her first birth. In the wild, pandas typically raise just one child at a time, so zoo workers have been cycling the babies time with their mother.
The twins spent the first few weeks in an incubator lent to the zoo by the Berlin Charité hospital.There are thought to be fewer than 2,000 pandas in the wild.aw/rt (dpa, AFP, AP)