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1-year-old panda cub gets 200-lb. ice cake for birthday

July 30, 2013 at 3:40 PM ET

Giant panda cub Xiao Liwu reached for treats at the top of his birthday cake this morning at the San Diego Zoo. The panda received the three-tiered ic...
Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo
Giant panda cub Xiao Liwu reaches for treats at the top of his birthday cake at the San Diego Zoo.

Happy (belated) birthday, Xiao Liwu! The San Diego Zoo's giant panda cub celebrated his first birthday on Monday with a 200-pound, three-tiered ice cake to share with mom Bai Yun.

Xiao Liwu, whose name means "little gift," weighs over 41 pounds now, but is still nursing. Though he can't eat solids yet, the cub definitely has a sweet tooth: He was a little shy at first, but eventually dug into his birthday treat as visitors looked on. As for his "presents," they came in the form of decorated boxes — some shaped like zoo animals, others like traditional presents — filled with alfalfa and biscuits for mom and her birthday boy to enjoy.

"Xiao Liwu hung back at first, but as his mother rested, he came around the front and spied the 'gorilla,' which gave him a start!" San Diego Zoo Global editor Debbie Andreen wrote in a blog post on Monday. "But he recovered and meandered up to the cake, sat right in front of it, and started to explore it gingerly with his mouth and nose. Soon, Bai Yun joined him there, and they seemed to share it quite well."

The zoo started working on the ice cake three weeks ago, adding special touches like the panda's name spelled out in mashed carrots and a number "1" to top it off. Pink boxes were tied up like pinatas on several branches in the exhibit, which little Liwu investigated throughout the day.

And speaking of giant panda births, we're pleased to report that Zoo Atlanta's newborn twin cubs are healthy and growing stronger as they continue to feed from their 15-year-old mother, Lun Lun.

In this July 24, 2013 photo released by Zoo Atlanta, twin Panda Bears lie on a blanket.  Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on Ju...
Adam K Thompson / Zoo Atlanta via AP
Twin panda bears lie on a blanket at Zoo Atlanta on July 24. They were born at the zoo on July 15.

"The cubs are growing like weeds!" zookeeper Jennifer A. wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. "This is great news for many reasons, but most importantly, it means that Lun Lun is producing enough milk to feed both of her growing boys."

After a very sleep-filled pregnancy, giant panda Lun Lun brought the little duo into the world on July 15. In keeping with Chinese naming traditions, the pandas won't be given monikers until they are 100 days old. They are the first twins born in the U.S. since 1987.


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