Tenzing the 10-month-old red panda is named for Tenzing Norgay, a.k.a. Sherpa Tenzing, one of the most famous mountain climbers in history and the man who saved Sir Edmund Hillary's life so the two of them could later become the first to summit Mt. Everest.
Tenzing's name was selected by Zoo Emeritus Board member and Bay Area philanthropist Barry Lipman and his wife Marie, who were present at this morning's event. "I wanted to help the Zoo in carrying out its goals of conservation and education," Lipman explained. "By choosing Tenzing, I hope to bring about inquiry and interest in the Himalayas, its animals, its people, and the conquest of Mt. Everest."
The human Tenzing once wrote in his autobiography, "It has been a long road ... From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax."
Tenzing the red panda, meanwhile, was born in Sacramento and will never have to worry about income tax, as he is a relatively small mammal with no source of income. He will enjoy a comfortable life in his treehouse perch, which features plenty of bamboo native to the Himalayas and western China. Like the Everest expedition, our red panda pal will get his very own documentary. Except his will be on Animal Planet in June. Until then, here he is being adorable:
Previously: All Red Panda coverage on SFist