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Atlanta Zoo Panda
Two-year-old giant panda Mei Lan at Zoo Atlanta.

Mei Lan (simplified Chinese: 美兰; traditional Chinese: 美蘭; intended meaning: "Atlanta Beauty"), is a male giant panda. He was born at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia on September 6, 2006, after his mother's, Lun Lun, record-setting 35-hour labor. Originally identified by zoo staffers as female, Mei Lan was determined to be male by staff in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. He is the first offspring of Lun Lun and Yang Yang, who are also the parents of Xi Lan, Po, and 2 pairs of twins, namely Mei Lun & Mei Huan, and Ya Lun & Xi Lun. Mei Lan was relocated to Chengdu, China on February 4, 2010.

Naming

Mei Lan was named at a naming ceremony held on December 15, 2006, following the Chinese tradition of naming panda cubs when they are about 100 days old. He received person of the year from Atlanta's The Sunday Paper on December 24, 2006. In so doing, he defeated Atlanta humans Michael Vick, Cynthia McKinney, Dallas Austin, Sonny Perdue, and Bernard Marcus.

Mei Lan, which may also transliterate as "American Orchid" or "Beautiful Orchid", was submitted by WSB-TV, the Atlanta ABC affiliate. The name was chosen from a public online poll on ajc.com after it won 22% of the votes.

Other finalists in the panda cub naming poll
Name Pronunciation Meaning Submitter
Xiao Tao, 小桃 shao-tao “little peach” Panda Express
Mei Tao, 美桃 may-tao “beautiful peach” WGCL-TV. CBS
Mei Li, 美丽/美麗 may-lee “beautiful” WAGA-TV. Fox
Ming Xing, 明星 ming-shing “bright star” WXIA-TV. NBC
Ping Bao, 平宝 ping-bao “peacefulness & precious treasure” AJC
Cheng Ya, 成娅/成婭 chung-ya “pretty Atlanta girl from Chengdu” Zoo Staff
Ming Yue, 明月 ming-yuu “bright moon” Zoo Staff
Chang Jiang, 长江/長江 chung-jung “Yangtze River” Chinese
Tai Ji,太极 tai-ji “Tai Chi” (philosophical foundation of Taoism) Chinese

Repatriation

Mei Lan, like other zoo-born giant pandas in the U.S., contractually belongs to China. He left for China on February 4, 2010, on the same flight as Tai Shan from the National Zoo in Washington D.C.. His new home is at the Chengdu Panda Base, where both his parents were born.

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