Jia Panpan — meaning “Canadian Hope” — and Jia Yueyue — “Canadian Joy” — are the names chosen for the Toronto Zoo’s twin giant panda cubs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the dignitaries on hand at Monday morning’s naming ceremony — the first big public unveiling of the twins — which was also attended by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
“The panda is a symbol of peace and friendship which is fitting considering Canada’s ever-growing relationship with China,” said Trudeau.
“The birth of these pandas on the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and China is a wonderful and serendipitous coincidence.”
Both Wynne and Tory also had a chance to hold the baby pandas prior to the name unveiling.
“They have captured our hearts in this country,” said Wynne. “And they’ve shone a light at the integral conservation and education work at the zoo.”
The elder pandas Er Shun and Da Mao are also no strangers to political photo ops.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was among the dignitaries waiting on the tarmac for the giant pandas’ arrival from China back in 2013.
Born last October, the cuddly little bear cubs reached four months in February and are growing increasingly mobile.
They’ll be on display to the public beginning Saturday, March 12 but zoo members get an exclusive sneak-peek-preview from Tuesday, March 8 to Friday, March 11.
The panda cubs will be in their indoor enclosure with Er Shun from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The zoo polled people online to help select names for the pair.
Zoo staff have said the cubs will live at the zoo for about two years and will likely return to China once they are weaned from Er Shun.
In 2018 the two grown pandas are to be moved to the Calgary Zoo for a five-year stay.
It’s estimated that there are 2,400 pandas in the world and only 44 of them live outside of China.
With a file from Will Campbell and The Canadian Press