Red Pandas in Sabae City’s Nishiyama Zoo
In July 2019, in Nishiyama Zoo, located in Fukui Prefecture’s Sabae City, twin red pandas (also known as “lesser panda”) were born. On November 4th, a christening ceremony for 4 baby red pandas, including the twins, was held at the zoo. The two twin pandas’ names were decided as “Reifa” and “Niiko”.
Through the city’s crowdfunding service “FAAVO Sabae”, four investors each gained the right to name one of the four baby red pandas. For the name “Niiko” (ニーコ), a woman (aged 37) from Aichi Prefecture said, “I took a cue from ‘Muuko’ (ムーコ), the name of a dog that appears in a favourite manga, and replaced the first character of the dog’s name, with that of the zoo’s name.” She continued, “I hope the name can convey feelings of happiness, and the image of bright smiles.” The person who named “Reifa” (令花) wanted to infuse the people’s fascination of Nishiyama Park’s flowers (花), such as azaleas and cherry blossoms, combining it with the name of the current era, Reiwa (令和).
A female Francois’ leaf monkey, born in November 2017, was named “Karen”, and a white-handed gibbon (also known as “lesser ape”), born in December 2017, was named “Komu”. “Komu” was chosen as a name “filled and infused with love”. With “Karen” (花恋), the name of the gibbon’s mother, Ren-ren (恋恋), and the cute image of flowers (花) were combined to form its name.
Attending the christening ceremony was Ms. Kato, who named Niiko, and Mr. Hyakuo Makino, the Sabae City mayor. They unveiled the written names of the red pandas, filled with anticipation of their growth. Moreover, the Nishiyama Zoo Fellowship, in cooperation with the farms in Fukui Prefecture, and Sabae city district’s Youth Development Council, the animals were able to receive approximately 140 kilograms of fruits and vegetables for food.