Panda cub Bao Bao celebrated her first birthday with a traditional Chinese Zhuazhou ceremony Saturday at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington. The ceremony is a very important part of a child’s first birthday in China. The ceremony this weekend was adapted for a panda. To celebrate Bao Bao’s American side, she was given a birthday cake consisting of frozen apple juice that was dyed pink with beet juice. Frozen apple and pear slices were distributed between cake tiers, because these are some of her favorite snacks.
In a traditional Zhuazhou ceremony, three objects are placed in front of the child and whichever one he or she chooses first will indicate something about the future. In the panda ceremony, three posters with images of different items painted on them -- peaches, pomegranates and bamboo -- were placed in Bao Bao’s yard with her favorite honey treats beneath them. Bao Bao chose the peaches, which indicated she was going to live a long, prosperous life. Those in attendance reported she then played with the other posters.
“This has been such a fast year,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo. “I remember feeling like an anxious father-to-be while waiting see if Mei Xiang was pregnant. Today, we are celebrating one of our biggest conservation successes. It’s been amazing for us, our members and all of Washington, D.C., to watch Bao Bao thrive and grow. She is so much more than just a beautiful 44-pound cub. She represents decades of collaboration between American and Chinese scientists.”
Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo as a result of a “precisely timed artificial insemination performed by the panda team at the zoo.” When she turns 4 years old, she will go to China and enter the panda breeding program.
The zoo’s giant panda live stream is available at the National Zoo’s website. Meanwhile, watch a video of Bao Bao’s first year: