WASHINGTON — First birthdays are often a big deal.
And when you’re a giant panda cub — such as Bao Bao, at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington — they are even bigger.
The adorable 44 -pound cub celebrated turning 1 on Saturday with a special frozen cake and cheers from her fans.
The cake, made by the zoo’s nutrition department, contained Bao Bao’s favorite fruits, including apples and pears, packed in ice.
It was decorated with flower-shaped ornaments carved from carrots and sweet potatoes and topped off with a large number “1.”
Bao Bao, whose name means “precious” and is one of 42 surviving cubs born last year in human care, approached the ice cake with suspicion, but in no time licked it with apparent delight.
A representative from the Chinese embassy was on hand, while the panda’s fans were encouraged to tweet birthday wishes using #BaoBaobday.
According to the zoo, Bao Bao was born after a precisely-timed artificial insemination performed by the panda team in Washington and scientists from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province.
Bao Bao’s parents were born at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. They were later loaned to the National Zoo through an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
As to their little girl, she won’t celebrate many more birthdays in the United States.
After she turns 4, Bao Bao will go to China to enter the breeding program there for giant pandas.