How does a panda celebrate a birthday? With cake, of course

How does a panda celebrate a birthday? With cake, of course

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Panda cub Bao Bao tastes her birthday cake at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23. Bao Bao's first birthday was celebrated at the zoo with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. Photo: Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

(Reuters) – A rambunctious panda bear cub celebrated a rare first birthday with a special cake and traditional Chinese gifts at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington on Saturday, zoo officials said.

Bao Bao, a 44-pound female, is the second panda in the zoo’s history to live a full year, as the endangered species produce tiny and delicate offspring that are often unable to survive infancy, zoo spokeswoman Devon Murphy said.

“Today, we are celebrating one of our biggest conservation successes,” Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo, said in a statement. “It’s been amazing for us, our members and all of Washington, D.C., to watch Bao Bao thrive and grow.”

For her birthday, Bao Bao received several items, including pictures of peaches and bamboo, symbolizing longevity and good heath as part of the Chinese tradition of Zhuazhou, the zoo said.

Most of the world’s 1,600 giant wild pandas live in bamboo forests in central China.

Bao Bao was also able to feast on a tiered cake made of frozen apple juice, dyed shades of pink using beet juice, and apple and pear slices, some of her favorite foods, the zoo said.

The cake was decorated with flower shapes carved from carrots and sweet potatoes, and had a large number “1” carved out of frozen juice on top.

Bao Bao, who can been seen in live “panda cam” footage exploring her exhibit at the zoo, is to travel to China and enter the breeding program for giant pandas when she is four years old, the zoo said.

The National Zoo has studied pandas since 1972, and has seen the birth of seven cubs, Murphy said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Recent Headlines

in Black Friday, National

WATCH: How holiday shopping can help charities


In the frenzy of holiday shopping, consumers are doing more than getting great deals, they’re also using coupons to help raise money for a number of worthy causes.

in Black Friday, National

Thanksgiving getaway: Cheap gas, high security


Millions of Americans embarked on their annual Thanksgiving travels on Wednesday, with security at airports, New York City's parade festivities and other venues expected to be heightened amid jitters after the Paris attacks.

in Sports

Rangers replace Maple Leafs atop hockey’s most valuable list


The Rangers, who return to the top of the rankings for the first time since 2004, were valued at $1.2 billion

in National

2015 to be the hottest year in history


This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said.

in National, World

Many House Republicans want refugee restrictions in spending bill


Nearly one-third of the Republicans in the House of Representatives signed a letter calling on party leaders to ensure that a must-pass spending bill block any use of federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria and nearby countries.