San Diego Zoo Celebrates Birthday of Its Youngest Panda

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Panda Bear with Birthday cake - large

San Diego Zoo Celebrates Birthday of Its Youngest Panda

San Diego Zoo Celebrates Birthday of Its Youngest Panda

Aug 8, 2011


Yun Zi Receives Ice Cake for his Second Birthday



A giant panda turned two today at the San Diego Zoo - but there was nothing terrible about it. Yun Zi, the youngest of three pandas at the Zoo, walked onto his exhibit at 9 a.m. to a crowd of delighted guests and panda fans. The birthday bear strolled around his exhibit a bit before sitting behind and then straddling his cake.


The ice cake was created for Yun Zi by staff in the Zoo's forage warehouse, which manages the distribution of food to animals throughout the Zoo. The staff began creating the three-tiered cake three weeks ago. It was decorated with bows made out of bamboo leaves, colored pieces of ice, including "Yun Zi" on the side, and topped with a number "2." The cake design included a bowl in the bottom tier that was filled with the giant panda's favorite fruits and vegetables - yams, carrots and apples - and drizzled with honey.


The cake didn't stay beautiful for long, as Yun Zi picked off the bows and toppled the entire cake onto its side, presumably to get to the other treats on the cake.


Yun Zi, whose name means "son of cloud," is the fifth giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. This easy-going youngster likes to hang in the treetops and is known for being a night owl. It does not take much to keep Yun Zi entertained as he has proven to be very self-reliant. He is the son of Gao Gao, a 20-year-old wild-born male giant panda who arrived at the San Diego Zoo on Jan. 15, 2003. Yun Zi's mother, Bai Yun, is a 20-year-old female giant panda who was born at a giant panda breeding center in Wolong, China, and arrived at the San Diego Zoo in September 1996. Bai Yun's name means "white cloud" in Chinese.


This month people can purchase gifts for Yun Zi, and his parents, via the Zoo's online wish list at


The San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the United States with giant pandas. The Zoo began its long-term giant panda conservation partnership with the People's Republic of China in 1996. Since then, the Zoo has welcomed the birth of five healthy pandas - the most of any zoo in the nation.


The births are a great success, as only 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist. The giant panda species has been challenged by low reproduction rates, bamboo shortages, habitat destruction and hunting. The San Diego Zoo, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, is working to conquer these challenges.


The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.




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