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Southwest Japan zoo names monkey with hopes to send 'encouragement' amid virus gloom

The newborn monkey "Eeru", named after the wish to send cheers in this time of crisis, is seen clinging to her mother at this Oita zoo. (Photo courtesy of the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden)

OITA -- A zoo in this southwestern Japan city revealed on April 20 that they have named a newborn female monkey "Eeru," which roughly means "encouragement" in hopes of bringing encouragement to those undergoing hardships due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden has an annual custom of asking the public to submit name ideas for the first baby monkey born each year. Although the zoo had been inviting the public to submit suggestions as usual from March 20, it had been closed from March 22 due to coronavirus concerns and was only able to garner 196 proposals, a dramatic drop from the 1,691 submissions from the year before.

The top five name ideas that were submitted were: "Corona," "Gorin (Olympics)," "Mask," "Olympia," and "Eeru," in that order. Usually, the suggestion with the highest number of submissions is adopted, but this year, Mayor Kiichiro Sato chose the fifth popular option of "Eeru" as the other options were "not appropriate." "Eeru" is a term coined in Japan, using the English word "yell," to express sending encouragement and is used to cheer for someone. The name was given to a female monkey whose birth was confirmed on April 19.

The zoo is planning to show content of the monkey Eeru on its website and social media.

(Japanese original by Nao Ishii, Oita Bureau)

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