"We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub," one zoo representative said

By Benjamin VanHoose
November 23, 2020 02:10 PM
Advertisement

"Our little guy" now officially has a name!

On Monday, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute announced that their 3-month-old male giant panda cub has been given a moniker: Xiao Qi Ji (小奇迹), pronounced "SHIAU-chi-ji," which translates to "Little Miracle" in English. The zoo welcomed the cub on Aug. 21 and has been referring to him as "our little guy," prior to his official naming.

In a press release, the zoo said the name "reflects the extraordinary circumstances under which he was born and celebrates the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species."

The name was chosen after the votes from the zoo's naming poll, which was open to fans of the baby panda between Nov. 16 and Nov. 20.,  were counted. Four Chinese names were options in the poll, with Xiao Qi Ji taking the cake by the time the voting window closed.

The other potential names in the running were: Fu Zai (福仔), which means "Prosperous Boy"; Xing Fu (幸福), "happy and prosperous"; and Zai Zai (仔仔), a traditional Chinese nickname for a boy.

Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

As a public health precaution due to the ongoing pandemic, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is closed to the public. The cub will likely make his public debut in January.

"Connecting people around the world with nature, whether in person or in this virtual setting, is a cornerstone of our mission to conserve and protect giant pandas for future generations," Steve Monfort, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement.

"Like many who have followed our giant panda cub since his birth last summer, I tune into the Giant Panda Cam from time to time. Watching Xiao Qi Ji always puts a smile on my face. We are grateful that those who share in our joy have helped us pick the perfect name for our panda cub," added Monfort.

RELATED VIDEO: Maisie the Adorable Baby Chimpanzee Laughs for the First Time

Xiao Qi Ji was chosen as one of the name options because, at age 22, mother Mei Xiang is the oldest panda to give birth in North America, and because of the joy the cub has delivered amid the pandemic, Annalisa Meyer, deputy director of communications at the zoo, previously told PEOPLE.

"All of the names reflect what this cub has meant to us, the zoo community," Meyer said of the name-choosing process. "The cub has brought so much joy and happiness at a time when things are challenging for so many people," she says, adding that the cub's arrival allowed people to "pause and wonder at the natural world."