Kirk Cousins picks his name for John Ball Zoo’s red panda cubs

Community News |Jul 27, 2020|3 min read

Video invites community to cast their vote for their favorite names in support of John Ball Zoo


GRAND RAPIDS MI – Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings and former Michigan State University quarterback, is helping John Ball Zoo choose names for the newborn red panda cubs. John Ball Zoo asked Kirk Cousins to help them kick off the contest to name the three adorable baby red panda cubs. In a video message posted by the Zoo on their website, Cousins reveals his name choice of “Sparty”.


The video also announces how the community can make their choice through online voting. The three female red panda cubs have three possible names for each; cub A – Zoë, Rose and Masala, cub B – Sage, Pixie and Ruby, cub C – Ginger, Willow and Sparty. Everyone and anyone can cast their name vote online at for as little as a $1 donation to the Zoo.


For every dollar donated, a vote will be recorded and the name with the most donations for each cub will become their name. People can cast as many $1 votes as they want for their favorite(s)! Proceeds from the naming contest will support the care and conservation of red pandas at John Ball Zoo and through the Red Panda Network in support of their conservation work being done to save red pandas from extinction in the wild.


The names up for vote were selected by the Zoo’s animal care staff and their supporters who made the red panda habitat possible.


The birth of these three females, along with their parents Wyatt and Wasabi, is incredibly exciting and crucial for John Ball Zoo and red pandas all around the world. Habitat loss is the top threat to the survival of the less than 2,500 adult red pandas left in the wild. Now more than ever, the Zoo’s red pandas serve as a great reminder of why it’s so important to support and be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment.


Since their birth in late June, the John Ball Zoo’s red panda cubs have been a favorite by thousands of people online and the Zoo is excited to announce that the community will get a chance to help name the cubs.


The voting window will be open from July 27 – August 30 and the winning names will be announced on September 4. For $1, each vote for a favorite name will help make an impact in the care and conservation of red pandas. To cast your vote, visit

John Ball Zoo hopes for the cubs to make their public debut in August but noting how Wasabi will determine when she and the cubs are ready for the debut together. In the meantime, the community can follow the cubs’ progress through the Zoo’s social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


John Ball Zoo was founded in 1891 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is the 10th oldest Zoo in the United States. Guided by the four core values of conservation, education, community and celebrate, John Ball Zoo accomplishes the mission to inspire our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment. Additional information can be found by visiting