This morning, Asia Trail keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Washington, D.C., celebrated giant panda Xiao Qi Ji’s [SHIAU-chi-ji] third birthday at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. At 9 a.m., animal care staff presented him with a special panda-friendly fruitsicle cake made by the Zoo’s Department of Nutrition Science. Commissary keepers crafted the multi-tiered cake and “3” topper using frozen diluted apple and pineapple juices. The treat was “frosted” with a mixture of mashed sweet potatoes, mashed carrots and honey. Keepers decorated the tiers with apples, sweet potatoes, carrots and bamboo sprigs. Virtual visitors tuned in to NZCBI’s Giant Panda Cam to watch Xiao Qi Ji enjoy his birthday festivities.
This will be Xiao Qi Ji’s last birthday in Washington, D.C. He and his parents, 25-year-old Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) and 25-year-old Mei Xiang (MAY-shong), will leave the Zoo by December. Panda Palooza, a giant farewell celebearation will be held at the Zoo Sept. 23 to Oct 1; the Zoo will share event details on its website in early September.
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Photo credit: Skip Brown, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute