Ex-Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins kicks off contest for naming red panda cubs at John Ball Zoo

The Detroit News

NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins is helping the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids name three new red panda cubs.

It should be little surprise the former Michigan State signal caller's suggestion for one of them: Sparty. But, voters will get the final say.

The John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is holding a naming contest for three female red panda cubs, with help from former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The zoo is holding a contest in which the community can name the three female cubs — born to parents Wyatt and Wasabi — through online voting, which started Monday and goes through Aug. 30. The choices, selected by the zoo's animal care staff (and Cousins) and their supporters, are:

Cub A: Zoe, Rose, Masala

Cub B: Sage, Pixie, Ruby

Cub C: Ginger, Willow, Sparty

Voters can cast their choice at www.jbzoo.org/redpandacubsnamingcontest for as little as a $1 donation to the zoo, and can vote as many times as they like for at least $1 each time. Proceeds will support the care and conservation of red pandas at the zoo and through the Red Panda Network.

The winning names will be announced Sept. 4.

Cousins, a Holland Christian product, played at Michigan State from 2008-2011, where he completed 64.1% of his passes for 9,131 yards and 66 touchdowns. He helped guide the Spartans to back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010 and 2011, including a co-Big Ten title in 2010.

He was a fourth-round draft choice by Washington in 2012, and has played the last two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings. He's a two-time Pro Bowl selection.