A panda born on the first day of the London 2012 Olympic Games has been named Oreo in a vote by panda lovers around the world, officials said yesterday.
Rebecca Revich, an American contestant in the program "Global Search for Chengdu Pambassador 2012," recommended the name Oreo. She said the name Oreo means beauty in Greek and she very much likes Oreo cookies, which share the same colors as giant pandas.
Oreo was born on July 28 at the Chengdu Panda Base. She is the first panda in the base to be named by admirers around the globe.
The program organizer invited people worldwide on October 19 on Facebook to suggest a name to her and more than 8,000 names were sent in, including Mr Q and Lympic.
The name Oreo got the most votes, 2,345.
The name has led to an online debate as Oreo is so different from previous names, such as Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, given to the other pandas. Many people associate it with the cookies and they criticized the program for using panda to advertise for companies.
"I'm disappointed and I don't understand why they give panda a cookie name," said a commenter called Xu Leilei.
"It's too commercial," said another, who called himself Yu Zhua. "I protest."
Some people joked about why the organizer didn't name her Chips Ahoy! or for other food.
However, the program organizer said they didn't receive any commercial sponsorship.
"Her name is completely decided by netizens," the panda base said in a statement.
The name Oreo's first letter coincides with the first letter of Olympics, reminding people of her birth date. Also, Oreo's mother is called Li Li and Oreo's Chinese translation, Ao Li Ao, links with her mother's name and suggests her family tree, the base said.
The program aims to raise awareness regarding protection of giant pandas as well as other endangered animals.
Six chosen volunteers, dubbed Chengdu Pambassadors, have received training from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and will take part in international exchanges.
The program, conducted by the research center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, US-based Wild Aid and the Yao Ming Foundation, is an extension of a similar campaign carried out two years ago when the center recruited six volunteers from more than 60,000 applicants in about 50 countries.