CUTE ALERT: Panda Birthday Celebration!
The San Diego Zoo's panda exhibit queue was filled with media and guests this morning to watch Xiao Liwu, the San Diego Zoo's youngest panda, celebrate his first birthday. The exhibit he shares with his mother, Bai Yun, was filled with a birthday cake, boxes of presents and panda party decorations.
Xiao Liwu cautiously approached his three-tiered ice and bamboo cake flavored with yams, apples, and shaved carrots for the "icing." It didnt take long for the curious cub, who is 3 feet, 4 inches tall, to stretch and lick off all the carrot shavings from the 5-foot-tall cake.
Staff from the Zoo began creating the cub's cake three weeks ago and finished it off with bows made out of bamboo leaves, colored pieces of ice, and a "1" on top. The cake design included a bowl in the bottom tier that was filled with the giant pandas' favorite fruits and vegetables and was estimated to weigh 175 pounds.
Animal care staff also stuffed boxes with alfalfa and biscuits and hung them from the trees in the exhibit. The cub was able to show off his agility when he climbed and balanced on limbs while opening the hanging boxes.
Xiao Liwu, whose name means "little gift", was born on July 29, 2012 to mother Bai Yun and father Gao Gao. He is the sixth giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. Weighing a pound and a half when he was first examined 23 days after his birth, he is now just over 41 pounds of pure energy.
Affectionately called Mr. Wu by his keepers, he is described as a very smart and inquisitive cub whose favorite activities include roughhousing with his mom and napping in his favorite spot in one of the tallest trees on his exhibit. The adorable little guy boasts quite the fan base at the Zoo and on the Zoo's online Panda Cam.
Giant pandas are on loan to the San Diego Zoo from the People's Republic of China for conservation studies of this endangered species. As part of this long-term program, the San Diego Zoo is collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.