WASHINGTON — The National Zoo marked the first birthday of panda cub Bao Bao, and she got a cake made from frozen fruit juice and other treats like pears and apples for Saturday’s celebration. The cub is only the second panda born at the zoo to survive to her first birthday.

Bao Bao’s only sibling, brother Tai Shan, was born in 2005 and returned to China in 2010. Panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle says Bao Bao has been a different baby from her brother, including a little more stand-offish with keepers.

In the past year she has grown from a wriggling pink newborn a little bigger than a stick of butter to a 44-pound black-and-white bundle whose favorite activity is sleeping in a tree. She also likes wrestling with a blue cylinder-shaped buoy filled with sand. The cub, whose name means “precious” or “treasure,” has also started eating solid food like sweet potato and bamboo and recently got her first taste of honey.

She’s also learned behaviors that help keepers monitor her health including getting on a scale and standing up when asked. Lately, she’s responding when her name is called, MacCorkle said.

The next year will bring even more changes. Bao Bao will stop drinking her mother’s milk and, like wild pandas of the same age, she’ll start living in her own enclosure.

Bao Bao’s mother and father, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, arrived at the National Zoo on loan from China in 2000.


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