The National Zoo needs your help naming two Andean bear cubs.
The public has until Sunday to pick their favorite names for the 18-week-old brothers. All of the names on the ballot are culturally significant to two indigenous communities in the Andes region, which is the native habitat of the Andean bear.
The winning names will be announced March 26, and two days later, the newly named cubs will make their public debut.
The name choices for "Cub 1" are:
- Larusiri (lah-roo-SEE-ree) - This name comes from the Aymara language and means "giggly."
- Mayni (MY-nee) - This is an Aymara word that means "unique."
- usisqa (coo-SEES-kah) - This word in the Aymara language means "happy."
The name choices for the "Cub 2" are:
- Tusuq (too-SOOK) - This is a name in the Quechua language that means "dancer."
- Muniri (moo-NEE-ree) - This is a name in the Quechua language that means "loving."
- Wayna (WHY-nah) - This is a Quechua word that means "young."
The cubs were born to 8-year-old Billie Jean over a two-day period last November. Their father is a 21-year-old bear named Cisco.
Zookeepers say the brothers have spent the last four months bonding with their mother in a den at the Andean Bear exhibit. After their birth, keepers monitored the new family via closed-circuit cameras to give them their space, letting Billie Jean quietly nurse and bond with her young.
"This is the first time we've had a pair of male cubs, and already we're seeing them wrestle, pounce on and play with each other much more than our previous litters," said animal keeper Karen Abbott. "Their interaction with one another and Mom is especially endearing; I think the public will enjoy watching them play and explore their yard."
Andean bears are listed as a vulnearble species; it is estimated that only 20,000 are left in the wild.
Billie Jean is an experienced mom. Her first two cubs were born at 2010, becoming the first surviving Andrean cubs to be born in a North American zoo since Billie Jean herself. She had two more cubs in 2012.