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Finalists chosen in panda naming contest

Finalists chosen in panda naming contest

ATLANTA -- It's almost time to name the twin pandas born July 15 at Zoo Atlanta.

In accordance with Chinese tradition, the pandas will not be named until 100 days after their birth.

PHOTOS | Baby pandas roar, open eyes
PHOTOS | Twin panda cubs weigh in
PHOTOS | Awww! Cute babies at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta panda is pregnant

Zoo Atlanta panda is pregnant

ATLANTA -- Zoo Atlanta made a very exciting announcement Tuesday morning: giant panda Lun Lun is pregnant.

The 15-year-old panda's baby was spotted during an ultrasound over the weekend. The birth is expected to take place in the next two to three weeks.

Lun Lun and male panda Yang Yang have three other cubs, including 2-year-old Po.

PHOTOS | Po the Panda
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"We're thrilled about the possibility of a fourth cub for Lun Lun, but we remain cautiously optimistic at this point," Zoo Atlanta president and CEO Raymond B. King said in a statement. "Giant panda cubs are extremely fragile, and the chance remains that the fetus does not go to term."

Zoo Atlanta to break ground on new reptile exhibit

Zoo Atlanta to break ground on new reptile exhibit

ATLANTA -- As much as they try, and boy do they try, it's hard for kids to get up close to the creatures in Zoo Atlanta's World of Reptiles.

Even the Zoo's president admits  the railings are too high and the environment's not as natural as the zoo's other exhibits.

"It's over 50 years old," Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond King told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie. "We've gotten our useful life out of it."

King remembers going to the World of Reptiles as a kid, and it really hasn't changed much.

It's now the oldest structures still in use for public exhibits at the zoo.

"It's one of those institutions," Kind said. "For some, it's a last bastion of childhood."

But change is coming, thanks to the zoo's single-largest fundraising effort.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, zoo officials will break ground on a $22 million, state-of-the-art amphibian and reptile experience.

Zoo Atlanta euthanizes lion

Zoo Atlanta euthanizes lion

ATLANTA -- Zoo Atlanta's oldest male African lion passed away Monday.

Farasi, 22, was euthanized after zoo officials determined his age was compromising his quality of life.

"Farasi was a very special member of the Zoo Atlanta family," Zoo Atlanta deputy director Dr. Dwight Lawson said in a statement. "We're all saddened by his loss, but we're fortunate to have shared just a portion of his long and colorful life."

RELATED | Zoo Atlanta says final goodbye to Moby the Leopard

The lion was born Sept. 9, 1990 in South Africa and was on display at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park before being transferred to Atlanta in June 2000.

Zoo patrons may best remember Farasi for his trademark roar, which could often be heard echoing through the park.

Zoo Atlanta names baby orangutan, gorilla

Zoo Atlanta names baby orangutan, gorilla

ATLANTA -- Two of the newest arrivals at Zoo Atlanta now have names.

The baby gorilla born Mar. 14 was named Andi in honor of Andy Pachman, the late husband of Zoo Atlanta primate research director Dr. Tara Stoinski. Pachman died Mar. 9 after a battle with cancer.

Sumatran orangutan Blaze gave birth on Jan. 10. Her baby was named Pongo by Catherine Carlos, whose father Chris is a longtime supporter of the zoo. Naming the baby orangutan was Catherine's 12th birthday gift. "Pongo" is the first word in the scientific names of both orangutan species.

Zoo Atlanta offering free field trips

Zoo Atlanta offering free field trips

ATLANTA -- Zoo Atlanta has partnered with the Georgia Department of Education to offer free field trips to students.

GDOE officials say the partnership is part of the zoo's mission to make educational resources available to a larger number of students in the state. Officials say the zoo regularly uses part of its education funding to supplement science, biology and ecology studies with field trips to the zoo.

School in the GDOE priority, alert or focus categories may apply for free, self-guided field trips through the zoo's sponsored admissions program through Mar. 15. After that date, free field trips will be offered to schools in low-income areas.

Officials say self-guided trips include admission for students, one teacher and a chaperone for every 10 students.

Weaning begins for Po the panda

Weaning begins for Po the panda

ATLANTA -- Zoo Atlanta's giant panda cub has begun the weaning process.

Po, who was born in November 2010, began weaning on Jan. 3. Zoo Atlanta spokeswoman Keisha Hines said Po is eating more bamboo, fruit and leafeater biscuits to decrease his dependence on his mother Lun Lun's milk. He and Lun Lun are also spending more time apart.

PHOTOS | Po the panda grows up

Po is the third of Lun Lun's cubs to be weaned, according to Zoo Atlanta Curator of Mammals Dr. Rebecca Snyder.

"Po's weaning process is moving along well, and we know from the behavior of his two brothers and Lun Lun that we have an effective plan," Snyder said in a statement.

Once Po's weaning is complete, he, Lun Lun and other giant pandas Yang Yang and Xi Lan will moved to separate giant panda exhibits at the zoo.