Bao Bao the Panda Celebrates Her First Birthday

PHOTO: Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the Smithsonians National Zoo, Aug. 23, 2014.
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No animal celebrates a birthday quite like a panda.

Bao Bao the giant panda cub turned one today and celebrated at her home, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Bao Bao's party began with a Chinese birthday traditional called a Zhuazhou ceremony, the National Zoo said in a statement.

In the ceremony, Bao Bao had to pick an item that would predict her future. Zookeepers placed three posters in front of Bao Bao, each with a picture of peaches, bamboo or pomegranates.

PHOTO: Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the Smithsonians National Zoo, Aug. 23, 2014.
David Galen, Smithsonians National Zoo
PHOTO: Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, Aug. 23, 2014.

Each fruit symbolizes either longevity, good health, or fertility. Under each poster, zookeepers placed Bao Bao's favorite snack - honey treats - to help her decide.

"Bao Bao chose the peaches first, which means she will live a long life as an ambassador for panda conservation," the Zoo said in a statement.

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After her birthday ceremony, Bao Bao climbed and played on her favorite hemlock tree.

PHOTO: Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington on her first birthday, Aug. 23, 2014.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
PHOTO: Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington on her first birthday, Aug. 23, 2014.

To mark the special occasion, zoo nutritionists made Bao Bao a tiered birthday cake out of all her favorite foods.

Each tier was made from frozen diluted apple juice and dyed different shades of pink using beet juice. In each tier were slices of apples and pears, Bao Bao's favorite fruits.

The cake was decorated with flowers made from carrots and sweet potatoes. A large "1," also made from diluted apple juice, topped the cake.

Breeding pandas in captivity is especially difficult and Bao Bao's birth was a pleasant surprise for the National Zoo.

Bao Bao was born last year after the zoo unsuccessfully tried several times to artificially inseminate Bao Bao's mother, Mei Xiang.

"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 ... to watch Bao Bao thrive and grow ... She represents decades of collaboration between American and Chinese scientists," Kelly continued.

When Bao Bao turns four, she will travel to China to participate in a giant panda breeding program.

Bao Bao’s first year is featured in the Smithsonian Channel's new monthly web series, "Wild Inside the National Zoo."

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