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Zoo Names New Panda 'Hartsfield-Jackson'
(AP) ATLANTA Children sang and performers put on a lively dance Friday as Zoo Atlanta unveiled the name of the nation's newest panda cub - Hartsfield-Jackson, a 12-pound ball of adorableness too sedated to attend the hoopla.
Hartsfield-Jackson, which officials said “celebrates the diversity that both our city and the bi-chromatic panda cub symbolize,” was the most popular name in an online poll at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Web site out of 10 names chosen by the zoo, city officials, Brand Atlanta’s corporate partners Home Depot and Coca-Cola, and randomly selected focus groups. William B. Hartsfield was the longest-serving mayor in Atlanta's history, and previously inspired the name for the Zoo's famous great ape Willie B; Maynard Jackson was a three-term mayor who helped bring the Olympics to Atlanta in 1996, and who also loaned his name for the institution's beloved ocelot Maynard G. Krebs.
Li’l Peach, Whatizit and Perimeter Pete were among the other choices in the poll that drew 57,000 online votes.
Lion dancers performed to ensure good luck and prosperity for little Hartsfield-Jackson and Chinese-American children sang "I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing" in Chinese.
The honoree did not make an appearance but could be seen via video feed sleeping in her secluded habitat.
Hartsfield-Jackson took her first shaky steps in seclusion this week, a milestone that means her public debut is just a few weeks away. Until the debut, panda fans have been keeping up with the cub and her mother, Dim Sum, on the her online panda cam, access to which is available on a pay-per-view basis on her blog.
Nine-year-old Dim Sum gave birth Sept. 6 to the fifth giant panda born at a U.S. zoo in the last six years. Dim Sum and Hartsfield-Jackson’s father, Yao Ming, remain unmarried at press time.
Hartsfield-Jackson will return eventually to Chengdu, China to breed. Dim Sum was inseminated in March through a new process that aims to get a nearly pure semen sample from a male panda using “massage,” zoo officials said.
After several years of trying to inseminate a rhesus monkey, a lemur, and a recently dismissed zoo-keeper with samples of panda semen, the zoo decided to artificially inseminated Dim Sum, an actual panda, at the end of March.
Dennis Kelly, the zoo's president and CEO, said he hopes to impregnate Dim Sum again in 18 months.
"This is a happy day along a journey that's going to continue," Kelly said with a wink after the ceremony. "We expect more work will be done." Within moments of the announcement, zoo officials explained to Mr. Kelly that he would not be an acceptable semen donor for the future impregnation, after which he stomped off in an apparent huff.