S.F. Zoo renames crimson panda in honor of new Pixar film, ‘Turning Red’

S.F. Zoo renames crimson panda in honor of new Pixar film, ‘Turning Red’
The San Francisco Zoo renamed just one of its crimson pandas Mei Lee on the opening day of the new Pixar film “Turning Red.” with appearances by Rosalie Chiang (the voice of Mei Lee), director Domee Shi and producer Lindsey Collins. Photograph: Disney

The pink panda did not appear to be to recognize the fuss.

Standing up from her perch in the tree residence at the heart of the San Francisco Zoo’s exhibit, she took in the scene crammed with film posters, tv crews and a random assortment of far more than two dozen men and women with gentle curiosity, then curled up in a ball and took a nap.

Very little did the pink panda notice that all the fanfare was for her — Mei Lee, as she was renamed through an personal ceremony on Friday, March 11. Initially named Hunter, the furry purple panda now usually takes on the title of the primary character in “Turning Crimson,” in celebration of the premiere of Pixar’s latest animated coming-of-age animated movie out now on Disney+ and in select theaters in the course of the country.

Rosalie Chiang, the 16-yr-outdated Fremont native who offered the voice of Mei Lee, joined director Domee Shi and producer Lindsey Collins at the zoo’s pink panda show in the early morning to mark the celebration, along with a gaggle of reporters and zookeepers.

“It feels like a aspiration I did not know I experienced,” claimed Chiang, who was donning a bright-red hoodie that includes the film’s title and symbol. “That’s one particular that you would never imagine would materialize to you, and now it is like, I see this panda that is named right after my character in the movie.”

Evaluation: Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ is pitch-ideal Millennial bait

The San Francisco Zoo renamed a single of its pink pandas Mei Lee on the opening day of the new Pixar animated movie “Turning Purple.” Rosalie Chiang (center), who voiced Mei Lee, director Domee Shi (suitable) and producer Lindsey Collins have been on hand. Photo: Disney

In “Turning Pink,” the animated Mei Lee is a Chinese Canadian tween living in Toronto in the early 2000s who, a bit like the Remarkable Hulk, transforms into a red panda when feelings run substantial. She’s massive, furry, smelly and “an emotional wreck,” in accordance to Shi.

“The movie is about a teenage woman accepting her messiness and energy,” included Collins. “Let’s just be straightforward, menstruation is challenging. It is mortifying. That’s the colour red. It is these kinds of a fantastic coloration. And purple pandas are totally not represented in movies, which signifies we could type of make it our have. We weren’t inheriting some other movie’s myth about this animal. So it was form of a nice fresh new commence for us in that way, also.”

Tween Mei Lei turns into a red panda when she’s upset in Pixar’s “Turning Purple.” Image: Disney / Pixar

Collins mentioned that the Pixar filmmakers and animators who worked on “Turning Red” created typical subject trips to the zoo all through the early manufacturing in 2018 and 2019 to sketch the crimson pandas and notice their habits. To Shi, they provided the excellent metaphor for children likely by means of the uncomfortable middle school a long time.

“You come right here and they are like, ‘Oh yeah, they try to eat all kinds of food that are truly not that nutritious. They rest all working day. They just lounge about and wake up at night,’ ” stated Collins, who is also a mom of 3. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, you have just explained actually my youngsters.’ ”

S.F. Zoo field excursions helped Pixar animators get red pandas appropriate for ‘Turning Red’

“Turning Red” animator Tom Gately sketches all through a analysis trip to the San Francisco Zoo to observe pink pandas in December 2019. Image: Deborah Coleman / Pixar

Just one of the most important specifics Shi and the crew acquired in the course of those visits is that when pink pandas sense threatened, they fluff up and place their arms up — a gesture that usually seems adorable relatively than daunting. 

Chiang, who was unexpectedly cast in the lead part soon after she offered the “scratch” vocals for the movie at age 12, explained based on what the crew realized from the zoo, she did her finest to embody the voice of an 8-foot-tall red panda every time her character went via her metamorphosis.

I think the red panda is just me, but just like instances 100,” Chiang reported, with a small more growling, a tiny far more roaring.”

“Turning Red” (PG) premieres Friday, March 11, on Disney+ and at Grand Lake Theatre, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland.

The San Francisco Zoo renamed one of its pink pandas Mei Lee on the opening day of Pixar’s animated film “Turning Pink,” about a tween who turns into a huge crimson panda when she gets upset. Image: Disney