Bao Bao's First Birthday Will Begin With Traditional Chinese Ceremony

The birthday celebrations at the zoo will be open to the public from 11 a.m.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For giant panda cub Bao Bao's first birthday, the Smithsonian National Zoo is holding a traditional Chinese ceremony to predict her future. But one thing's for sure: Her future contains cake.

    As Bao Bao approaches this milestone, enjoy a Smithsonian video above, with highlights from her first year.

    Bao Bao is more than just the poster panda for all things cute. Her birthday represents another success in the conservation of the highly endangered giant panda species.

    The World Wildlife Fund estimate there are only 1,000 giant pandas living in the wild. About 100 live in zoos around the world for the purposes of breeding and conservation.

    In just one year of life, the roly-poly cub has become famous in the District for her adorable antics. She even has a few celebrity fans. You may well wonder how we quenched our thirst for cute before Bao Bao came to town.

    Some of our favorite highlights include the time she slurped down a frozen fruitsicle, her first foray into the outside world and the YouTube video that started it all: Bao Bao loudly protesting her tail being measured by keepers.

    Bao Bao will be sent to China when she is four years old, but there's still plenty of time to celebrate before then, and the zoo is holding a party in her honor Saturday.

    At 9 a.m., the giant panda cub will be given a traditional Zhuazhou (pronounced dra-JO) ceremony, similar to the one that many Chinese children are given on their first birthdays.

    During the ceremony, a little one is presented with three symbolic objects to choose from, and the baby's choice is supposed to indicate his or her future. Bao Bao will be presented with three painted symbols on posters for either her or her mother, Mei Xiang, to pick from.

    The event is closed to the public but Cui Tiankai, ambassador to the People's Republic of China, will answer media questions afterward to explain the significance of the ceremony.

    Members of the "Friends of the National Zoo" program can attend the ceremony and will recieve panda party hats, a free game download and a piece of birthday cake.

    At 11 a.m., the celebrations open up to zoo visitors, with a special panda-keeper demonstration. Bao Bao and Mei Xiang will be treated to a frozen cake.

    There will also be an extra talk held at 1:30 p.m. and guests will be served complimentary Dandan noodles, a dish from the Sichuan province where the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Panda in Wolong is located. Food is first-come, first-served.

    The zoo are asking guests to share photos and memories of Bao Bao's birthday on social media using #BaoBaoBday.