A pair of panda cubs born in a Toronto zoo have been named in honour of the country of their birth.
In a ceremony packed with dignitaries, the zoo announced the male cub is named Jia Panpan, meaning Canadian Hope, while the female cub is named Jia Yueyue, meaning Canadian Joy.
The event also marked the cubs’ first public appearance since their birth last fall.
“It takes a global village to raise giant pandas,” John Tracogna, CEO of the Toronto Zoo, said at the name unveiling on Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne were among those getting the first glimpse of the cubs, who have been held in a special maternity area since their birth last October.
“[The pandas] have captured our hearts,” Wynne said, adding that the zoo does amazing work for endangered species.
Both posed for photos with the cubs – an opportunity Trudeau joked his children would envy.
The prime minister called the cubs a symbol of Canada’s strengthening relationship with China, noting he had received a message of congratulations from his Chinese counterpart.
“Panda is a symbol of piece and friendship, which is fitting, given Canada’s growing relationship with China,” Trudeau said.
Mayor John Tory, who was also at the event, said this is the first thing he’s done as mayor that his grandchildren can relate to.
The cubs marked their 100th day in January and are now considered to have survived their infancy.
Their mother, Er Shun, is on loan from China. She and a male panda named Da Mao arrived in 2013.
A special committee was set up to compile possible monikers, which were then put to a public vote.
The cubs are set to be introduced to the general public this weekend.