San Diego Zoo Celebrates Giant Panda's Birthday
Yun Zi beats the August heat with an ice cake
The San Diego Zoo held an early morning party for their giant panda Yun Zi’s second birthday on Friday August 5, 2011 by presenting him with a specially-made ice cake (panda’s love ice.) Yun Zi was born on August 5, 2009 and was the fifth cub born from his mother Bai Yun and fourth cub to his father Gao Gao. Yun Zi was conceived through natural mating. His name, meaning “Son of Cloud” in Chinese was chosen from a list of 6,300 names submitted by fans of the San Diego Zoo, but wasn’t revealed until November 17, 2009, 104 days after his original birth date. Several months later, Yun Zi made his first public appearance at the Zoo on January 7, 2010 to a cavalcade of press and adoring fans.
Yun Zi's cake was specially created by staff from the Zoo's forage warehouse. Decorated with bamboo leaf bows, the mostly-ice cake included a bowl in the lower tier that was filled with yams, apples and carrots - his preferred fruits and veggies.
After years of prolonged negotiations and mountains of paperwork, the San Diego Zoo and China came to an agreement for a twelve year research loan for the giant pandas in hopes of successfully breeding the pandas and reproducing their offspring. Since the addition of the giant pandas, their exhibit has undergone extensive renovations to provide them with a suitable habitat and has been renamed the Giant Panda Research Station. The San Diego Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States which house and displays giant pandas and is the most successful program with regards to panda reproduction. Five panda cubs were successfully bred at the Zoo, and all but Yun Zi have been transported back to China to take part in the breeding program. In recent decades, the giant panda has become an endangered species due to habitat loss and an extremely low birthrate.
The Zoo currently has a panda cam in the Giant Panda Research Center that can be visited by clicking here.