Panda centre launches ‘global’ naming contest for cubs – but only in Chinese

Organisers say they ‘hadn’t thought’ about what language to use to promote campaign but foreign names will be considered

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 1:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 1:57pm

A panda research centre in southwestern China started a “global” contest to name four of its cubs – the only snag is that the advertising and entry forms were only available in Chinese.

The competition was launched by China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province, in conjunction with the Dujiangyan city government on Tuesday.

Those who successfully pick the names of the four unrelated cubs will be offered a chance to visit the panda centre and explore other local attractions, but will have to pay their own expenses to get there.

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So far the contest has only been promoted via Chinese social platforms such as Weibo and the mainland’s major media outlets.

Entries would only be accepted via the messaging app WeChat, which is widely used inside China but has relatively few users in the rest of the world where it is dwarfed by other platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The Chinese language entry forms do include two sentences in English, the headline, “Dujiangyan Global Name-Collecting Campaign for GiantPandas”, and the phrase “Scan the code ‘Meet Dujiangyan’ and leave the name you want”. However, the latter is next to a QR code that takes users directly to the city government’s WeChat account, which is Chinese language-only.

The city government of Dujiangyan told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday that it was looking for ways to allow foreign language entries.

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“We hadn’t thought about the language of the contest form, but names in any language are acceptable,” a spokeswoman for the city government said.

She also said that the decision to take entries only through WeChat was to make it more convenient to manage the information.

The city government later added that it had asked China Radio International Online – which broadcasts in dozens of languages – to collect entries through foreign social media and would set up an English-language page.

But even if overseas fans win the contest, the government will only cover their local expenses and they will have to pay their own travel costs.

“We appreciate that overseas people care about the giant panda and we will improve our work,” the government said.