BERLIN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Zoo Berlin pocketed three panda prizes in the Giant Panda Global Awards, it was announced at an official awarding ceremony held in Berlin on Thursday, after more than 300,000 panda fans from all over the world cast their votes.
The Zoo Berlin was nominated in five of the twelve categories, and picked up three awards in total, including a gold in the category of "Panda Moment of the Year" for the official opening of its Panda Garden, a gold in the category of "Favorite Panda Outside of China" for its panda star Meng Meng, and a bronze in the category "Most Beautiful Panda Zoo Enclosure".
The panda garden at Zoo Berlin was officially launched in July 2017, following the arrival of a male panda Jiao Qing and a female one Meng Meng from the panda breeding and research base in Chengdu, southwest China. The panda pair will stay in Zoo Berlin, the oldest in Germany, for 15 years.
Giant Panda Global Awards, namely the Oskar in the panda world, were initiated by Jeroen Jacobs, founder of the Giant Panda Global website, as a platform to draw attention to the threat facing giant pandas and to promote conservation efforts.
Zoos around the world vie to prove the excellence of their panda keeping and awareness-raising activities through participating in the awards.
"We are very proud to have won these awards," says Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. "The opening of the Panda Garden in the presence of Chancellor Merkel and President Xi was an incredible moment for us, too, and one that we shall remember for a long time to come. I am also delighted that our little Meng Meng was chosen as the favorite panda outside of China."
Dr Andreas Knieriem told Xinhua after the ceremony, "Meng Meng was a very charming giant panda, having the right size and very round face, and many male giant panda could fall in love with her."
Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Germany, Chen Ping, received the prize for the "Panda Moment of the Year" together with Zoo Berlin director.
Chen said that the official opening of the panda garden last year was also a very important moment in the bilateral relationship between China and Germany, and he felt happy that so many people around the world took interest in the well-being of pandas.
Dr Andreas Knieriem told Xinhua that they forwarded the prize to the Chinese Embassy in Germany so that they can keep it, because "they helped us a lot, in receiving the pandas and providing everything for the ceremony", adding that preparing for the opening ceremony on a tight schedule before the G20 Hamburg summit was something they cannot do on their own.
"You always need good friends, and we have our good friends from China who helped us achieve that," the director said.
Thursday's awarding ceremony were also attended by representatives from several European zoos that also won awards, including the Pairi Daiza zoo from Belgium, the Schoenbrunn Zoo from Vienna, and Ouwehands Zoo Rhenen from the Netherlands.
Voter participation in this year's awards was record-breaking. "More than 300,000 votes were cast from 127 countries," said Jeroen Jacobs. And German citizens made an important contribution to the success of their pandas, as Germany cast the fifth-highest number of votes, behind only China, France, the United States, and Indonesia.
The award categories also included favorite panda in China, favorite panda returned to China, panda personality of the year, panda keeper of the year, most promising panda researcher, among other titles.