Pandas and advocates for the animal from all over the world were honored at the Giant Panda Zoo Awards ceremony Friday morning at Zoo Atlanta.
Winners were voted on by panda enthusiasts through a poll at GiantPandaZoo.com, a website that is dedicated to the animal.
Twins Mei Lun and Mei Huan, born at Zoo Atlanta last year, shared the 2013 Panda Cub of the Year award. Hao Hao at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) was named the Favorite Panda in China and Lin Bing, who came to the CCRCGP from the Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand, is the new Favorite “Returned” Panda.
Tian Tian, a female giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo, was named the Favorite Panda Outside of China one year after her partner Yang Guang placed second in the same field.
Edinburgh Zoo’s team leader for giant pandas, Alison Maclean, spoke about the honor on the zoo’s website.
“I’m absolutely delighted to accept the award on behalf of Tian Tian for Favorite Panda Outside of China. … We think it’s absolutely amazing that everybody feels the same way about our female panda as we do; it’s just great and thank you to everyone for voting for us.”
Other awards included Panda Personality of the Year in two categories: Yuan Zai at the Taipei Zoo was the winning bear, and Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Dr. David Kersey of Western University of Health Sciences shared the honor for humans.
Deng Tao at China’s Chengou Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was named the Panda Keeper of the Year, ZooParc de Beauval in France had the Favorite Panda Enclosure, and Colorado-based non-profit Pandas International won Favorite Panda Charity for the second straight year.
Pandas International expressed their gratitude to their voters on Facebook.
Finally, the November release of Zhang Xiang into the wild – the third bear to be released in seven years — is the 2013 Panda Moment of the Year.
Can’t get enough? To see the Panda Cubs of the Year for yourself, check out Zoo Atlanta’s Panda Cam.