On Saturday, August 23, panda cub Bao Bao will celebrate her first birthday at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Bao Bao was given her name on December 1, 2013, as the result of an online voting campaign, where more than 123,000 votes came in from around the world. Bao Bao means “precious” or “treasure.” Bao Bao is the first baby panda blessed by the first ladies of China and the United States on the 100th day of her birth. First Ladies Peng Liyuan and Michelle Obama sent video remarks for the 100-day celebration party.
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) December 2, 2013
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones and Chinese Ambassador Cui officiated over Bao Bao’s naming ceremony.
“Pandas like Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, and now this little panda, help people from all over the world to learn about these fascinating animals," Jones said, "and to understand how important it is to take care of nature and the natural habitats around us.”
Bao Bao is an ambassador for wildlife conservation -- she symbolizes over four decades of cooperation between U.S. and Chinese scientists, and a hopeful future for the panda species.
Pandas are also important diplomatic symbols in the U.S.-China relationship. Bao Bao is only the second surviving cub born at the National Zoo since the first pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, arrived in April 1972 to commemorate President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. Over 20,000 people visited the pandas the first day they were on display, and an estimated 1.1 million visitors came to see them the first year they were in the United States. Since then, pandas have been sent and loaned to the United States as a gesture of good will, to the delight of panda fans all over the world.
You can find often find Bao Bao sleeping in trees and eating her favorite food, fruitsicles.
Bao Bao’s birthday celebration will take place this Saturday, August 23 at the National Zoo from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT. At 11:30 a.m. ET, Bao Bao and her mother, Mei Xiang, will receive a specially made frozen cake.
About the Author: Rebecca Yang serves in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.