I read on the AJC front page that Zoo Atlanta’s new panda has been named Po after the character in “Kung Fu Panda” and the new “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which is premiering in May.
DreamWorks, which produces the “Kung Fu Panda” series, has partnered with Zoo Atlanta. Other than naming the new panda Po I’m not sure what else the zoo has to do but in return for DreamWorks giving money to offset the Zoo’s panda conservation efforts. It will also continue giving money to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
“The male cub born at Zoo Atlanta Nov. 3, has been christened Po, after the character voiced by Jack Black in “Kung Fu Panda.”
At the naming ceremony Tuesday outside the zoo’s Giant Panda building, Black unveiled the name from an envelope resembling an Oscar winner, then goofed around onstage with a giant costumed panda for an “interpretive dance.”
Zoo Atlanta has entered into a partnership with DreamWorks Animation for a cross-promotional effort with the cub and the upcoming “Kung Fu Panda 2” movie, due in May.
Dr. Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, wouldn’t cite specifics, but he said DreamWorks is giving money to offset Zoo Atlanta’s panda conservation efforts.
DreamWorks will also continue to provide money for the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
Po is the third panda born at Zoo Atlanta and the only giant panda born in the U.S. in 2010. In keeping with Chinese tradition, he was not named until after his 100th day of life.
According to Dr. Haley Murphy, director of veterinary services at Zoo Atlanta, the cub, now 11 pounds, took his first steps a few days ago, indicating his burgeoning independence.
He is expected to go on public display in late March or early April.
“He has to be able to walk well before we’ll put him out, so he’ll determine the timing of that,” Murphy said.
Black, wearing a gray hoodie advertising his movie, visited with Po before the ceremony and was surprised to see his small tuft of red hair.
“He was soft, but not silky smooth,” was Black’s assessment. “He wanted his mommy, but he was sweet enough to spend a little time with me. I wanted to look him in the eye for research purposes. …”
When I read the top part of the story about the zoo naming the baby panda Po, I felt like eww that’s awful. But then I read the next paragraph that said that DreamWorks is giving money to help pay for all the panda conservation programs and I wasn’t as certain how I felt.
Let me say I am a huge fan of Zoo Atlanta. I used to work very closely with the zoo when I ran News for Kids for the AJC. We did “Creature Feature” together each week and when the pandas first arrived we did an excellent contest for the children where the kids sent in their best questions about the pandas. Based on those questions, we picked a group of kids who got to spend private time with the pandas and the Zoo Atlanta scientists. They learned all about the pandas and got to view them without the massive crowds that were normally packed against the glass outside their habitat.
My kids love to go to Zoo Atlanta and in second grade Rose’s class did the overnight field trip there, Night Crawlers, which was excellent!
My kids also like “Kung Fu Panda.” They think it’s very funny and love Jack Black. (His comments about the panda were cute.) And they are excited about “Kung Fu Panda 2.”
So we like both things individually but do we like both things together? (Your peanut-butter is in my chocolate. Your chocolate is in my peanut-butter.)
So what do you think? Super-savvy financial move by Zoo Atlanta or tacky and you’re embarrassed Atlanta’s new precious panda is named for a movie character? (And not just named for a movie character but with quid pro quo.) Will you try to explain the business relationship to your kids or just let them think he’s named Po for no reason other than it’s a perfectly fine name?
Hmmm … still deciding how I feel about this one.
– By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajcMomania