The Toronto Zoo revealed the names of the first Canadian-born twin panda cubs Monday, in a high-profile ceremony attended by a several dignitaries including the prime minister.

The young male black-and-white bear is named Jia Panpan, which means Canadian Hope and his female counterpart is named Jia Yueyue, which means Canadian Joy, the zoo announced.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remarked during the "once in a lifetime" event that the panda is a symbol of peace and friendship, "which is fitting considering Canada's ever-growing relationship with China."

He noted that the Toronto Zoo is "an example of Canada's strong commitment to science, conservation, and cutting-edge ecological and biodiversity sustainability."

The cubs were born at the zoo on Oct. 13, 2015, to a female panda on loan from China to Canada for 10 years.

Monday's event marked the cubs' first public appearance.

Their mother and another male adult panda are slated to move to the Calgary Zoo in 2018, where they will remain for five years.

The zoo has said that the cubs will stay with their mother for anywhere between 18 and 24 months, but the next steps beyond that time frame is undetermined.

During the ceremony, China's ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui noted that, worldwide, there are fewer than 2,400 giant pandas living both in the wild and in captivity.

He said the pandas are "a token of friendship from China," and added that, of the 44 pandas living outside of China, four of them are in Canada. 

Toronto "fascinated" by panda cubs: Tory

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the "healthy, thriving, and of course, adorable" cubs are a testament to the dedicated zoo staff, who monitored the young bears 24-hours a day, seven days a week, in the days and weeks following their birth.

"These cubs aren't just cute," Wynne said. "They tell a story about the importance of protecting our environment and all the creatures that call our planet home."

Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city has "fallen in love" with the giant panda cubs.

"We have followed every milestone in their short lives," he said. "Whether it was opening their eyes for the first time, the wobbly steps that they've taken, they've fascinated us."

The panda cub exhibit is expected to open to the general public later this month.

The five-month-old cubs were named by the public, who voted on a list of seven pairs of names chosen by a naming committee.

The other options were:

  • Jia Bao (Canadian Treasure) and Duo Bao (Toronto Treasure)
  • DuoDuo (Toronto) and Jia Jia (Canada)
  • Jia Pengyou (Canadian Friend) and Duo Pengyou (Toronto Friend)
  • Jia Renjian and Jia Ren'ai (originating from a Chinese idiom that means "When Canadians see them, Canadians will love them.")
  • Jia Baobao and Jia Beibei (originating from a Chinese idiom that means "Two Canadian treasures.")
  • Jia Huabao and Jia Huabei (originating from a Chinese idiom that means "Two Canadian and Chinese treasures.")

The proposed names came from a naming committee made up of representatives from the city's Chinese-Canadian community and zoo staff. Feedback was also provided by an English/Chinese translator, and representatives from the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and Chongqing Zoo, where the pandas' mother came from.