The male cub born at Zoo Atlanta Nov. 3, has been christened Po, after the character voiced by Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda.
At the naming ceremony Tuesday outside the zoo s Giant Panda building, Black unveiled the name from an envelope resembling an Oscar winner, then goofed around onstage with a giant costumed panda for an interpretive dance.
Zoo Atlanta has entered into a partnership with DreamWorks Animation for a cross-promotional effort with the cub and the upcoming Kung Fu Panda 2 movie, due in May.
Dr. Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, wouldn t cite specifics, but he said DreamWorks is giving money to offset Zoo Atlanta's panda conservation efforts.
DreamWorks will also continue to provide money for the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.
Po is the third panda born at Zoo Atlanta and the only giant panda born in the U.S. in 2010. In keeping with Chinese tradition, he was not named until after his 100th day of life.
According to Dr. Haley Murphy, director of veterinary services at Zoo Atlanta, the cub, now 11 pounds, took his first steps a few days ago, indicating his burgeoning independence.
He is expected to go on public display in late March or early April.
He has to be able to walk well before we ll put him out, so he ll determine the timing of that, Murphy said.
Black, wearing a gray hoodie advertising his movie, visited with Po before the ceremony and was surprised to see his small tuft of red hair.
He was soft, but not silky smooth, was Black s assessment. He wanted his mommy, but he was sweet enough to spend a little time with me. I wanted to look him in the eye for research purposes.
Attendees at the naming ceremony, which was open to the public, included children from Parkside Elementary and Kipp Elementary schools, who wore panda head hats for the occasion.
Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond King and Gov. Nathan Deal, spoke of the importance of giant panda conservation efforts. The lumbering mammals are among the world's rarest, with fewer than 1,600 believed to remain in the wild.
When Po is revealed for public viewing, he will join his parents, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, and big brother Xi Lan. The first offspring of the pair, Mei Lan, was dispatched to China in February 2010.
Panda lover Katharine Calhoun of Atlanta said she fell in love with Mei Lan, comes to visit Xi Lan every two months and is eagerly awaiting Po's arrival in the panda display.
"They are so adorable," Calhoun said. "There's hardly anything cuter than a baby panda."