The second Malaysian-born giant panda cub was officially named Yi Yi 谊谊 on 1 August 2019 at a ceremony officiated by the Minister of Water, Land & Natural Resources and witnessed by the Ambassador from China, and representatives from the Ministry, the Wildlife Department, Zoo Negara Malaysia, the Chinese Embassy, and members of local, regional and international media. The ceremony received widespread coverage as her naming was a widely anticipated event for many months.
I have been tracking reactions to Yi Yi’s name on various social media sites. Some panda fans mention the nicknames they have been calling her; perhaps they have been waiting for a naming competition to submit these names. For various reasons, the naming competition could not be held. Kudos to the Ministry of Water, Land & Natural Resources and Zoo Negara Malaysia for working closely with the relevant panda authorities in China to come up with the name Yi Yi. Just as big sister’s name Nuan Nuan (its Chinese character 暖 means “warmth”) was chosen to represent the warm relations between Malaysia and China, so second cub’s name Yi Yi (its Chinese character 谊 means “friendship”) was chosen to represent the friendship between the two countries. When put together, their two names also have a very significant meaning.
The name Yi Yi also fulfills another criterion set during big sister’s naming competition. Just like big sister is the first panda to be named Nuan Nuan, second cub is also the first panda to be named Yi Yi.