National Zoo

Happy Birthday, Xiao Qi Ji! National Zoo's Panda Cub Turns 1

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The youngest panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo is now one year old.

Xiao Qi Ji celebrated his first birthday Saturday with a specially made fruitsicle cake, as did his parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Photos: Happy Birthday, Xiao Qi Ji! National Zoo's Panda Cub Turns 1

Since his birth in 2020, Xiao Qi Ji has captured hearts and had many first-time experiences. Some of them include sliding and tumbling around in snow and recognizing his name, which translates to “little miracle” in English.

On Saturday morning, Xiao Qi Ji and his mother entered their outdoor habitat to discover their celebratory treats. The zoo said they approached Mei's heart-topped cake first. Later, they headed over to enjoy Xiao Qi Ji’s cake, which was adorned with a giant number 1 on top.

The base of the Mei's cake was made from frozen diluted apple juice, and the birthday cub's cake was made of frozen diluted grape juice. Both cakes were decorated with sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, pears, sugar cane, bananas and bamboo, the zoo said.

Panda fans got to watch the pandas enjoy their cakes live on the zoo's panda cam.

Xiao Qi Ji is the fourth surviving cub of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The oldest, Tai Shan, was born in July 2005, but the zoo had a long wait after that. It would be another eight years before Bao Bao arrived, to much excitement, in 2013, followed by Bei Bei two years later.

All three of the cub's older siblings now live in China, per an agreement between that nation and the United States.

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