There’s something about a panda cub that inspires good, old-fashioned doting from humans.
So when Bao Bao turned one on Saturday in the National Zoo in Washington D.C., First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her birthday greetings and Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai was on hand for the traditional “zhuazhou” ceremony.
Cui then pronounced long life and good health for Bao Bao, which he said “lay a good foundation for being fertile”.
Zhuazhou is one of the most important Chinese traditions on a child’s first birthday.
In the ceremony, parents place an assortment of articles in front of their child. What the child chooses is said to determine its future inclination and capabilities.
Bao Bao first picked a poster representing good health before playing with the last one foretelling that she would have “many cubs”, according to China Daily.
Animal keeper Nicole MacCorkle praised Bao Bao’s choices and called her an “independent little bear.”
“Ever since she was very young, she’s been doing her own thing and she sometimes comes when her mother calls her but not always,” MacCorkle told state news agency Xinhua.
“She just quietly observes the world from her hemlock tree most of the time.”
Finally, it was time for the birthday cake — a 40-pound dessert made by the zoo’s nutrition department, with “1″ on top and dripping with apple juice and flower appliques carved from carrots and sweet potatoes.
Weighing 20 kilograms, Bao Bao is starting to eat more solid foods and MacCorkle expects her to become more independent and grow more quickly in the weeks and months to come.
Despite the rain, thousands of panda lovers, many with young family members, flocked to the zoo.
Retired master sergeant Barbara Barron, who had been there since 5 a.m., was the first in line for the birthday party.
“I’m really excited and I’m a panda maniac,” Barron said, wearing a commemorative panda birthday hat. “I wish her a long, prosperous life.”
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