Ancient Panda Custom: Why Zoos Wait 100 Days to Name Baby Pandas

The cute-baby-animal-loving sector of the Internet can finally exhale. The baby panda at Zoo Atlanta finally has a name.

The little male cub was born Nov. 3, 2010, but per Chinese tradition did not receive his name – Po, after Jack Black's character in the "Kung Fu Panda" films – until this morning.

Human babies in China traditionally wait 100 days to receive their names, and American zoos have continued the custom for their fuzzy Chinese guests. All pandas around the world, including those born aboard, technically belong to China and are merely on loan to foreign zoos.

The 100-day naming tradition began as a way to mark when a fragile human infant had grown to a point where it was likely to survive, said Rebecca Snyder, the curator of mammals at Zoo Atlanta. That philosophy applies to pandas, too.

Baby pandas are notoriously vulnerable – they are small, weak and blind, catch infection easily, and are entirely dependent on their mothers for survival.

Despite the emotional risks, the lack of a name for Zoo Atlanta's cub has not prevented many panda fans from getting attached. One look at his adorable baby photos and most panda lovers are hooked.

This article was provided by Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to

Clara Moskowitz
Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has written for both and Live Science.