Jack Black visits Atlanta zoo to name ‘Kung Fu Panda’ cub

The only giant panda cub born in the United States last year got a name this morning. And his name is Po.

In a bit of cuddly promotional goodness, actor Jack Black, who voices the character Po in the “Kung Fu Panda” movies, was on hand this morning at the little guy’s naming ceremony at Zoo Atlanta.

And the whole thing was sponsored by Dreamworks Animation. Who would have guessed it?

Raymond King, president and CEO of the Atlanta zoo, says Black “has already helped to bring the importance of saving this species to a new generation of conservationists.”

Zoo Atlanta says Dreamworks is partnering with it to help panda conservation programs at the Chengdu Research Base and other panda reserves in China.

No details on Dreamworks’ donation have been released. But the zoo wants you to know that “Kung Fu Panda 2,” also starring Jack Black, opens May 26, 2011, on movie screens around the U.S.

You can get a live look at Po on Zoo Atlanta’s Panda Cam.

Pandas in zoos

When I read about giant panda Ling Ling’s death in Japan, besides confusing the Ling Ling that visited the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1972 with the Ling Ling that just died at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, (see post) I also found out that there are only 1500, or thereabouts, pandas in the wild. That feels a bit alarming. That’s a smaller number than the number of students in many high schools in the U.S.

With the Ueno Zoo without a panda, perhaps they might get a loaner. Zoos do loan animals. In 1987, China loaned the San Diego Zoo two pandas that procreated. Now the San Diego Zoo has the most giant pandas than any other zoo in the United States. Head to the Giant Panda Research Station if you go here.

Where else can you see pandas? Here’s what I’ve found so far.

  • At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the Giant Panda Habitat is a place to experience panda life and learn about a panda’s life cycle.
  • The Memphis Zoo has a panda pair, Ya Ya and Le Le. The CHINA exhibit highlights the pandas and other animals from this part of the world.
  • The Atlanta Zoo, the 4th zoo in the U.S. with giant pandas has a mother and her cub.
  • At the Adelaide Zoo in Southern Australia, you’ll be able to see pandas in 2009. The hope is that Wangwang and Funi (male and female) will mate and the zoo will be able to have a role in the conservation of these animals.
  • The Madrid Zoo has a panda pair on loan for the next ten years.