Saturday, October 1, 2022

Giant panda marks birthday with cake, party at National Zoo



Amid Washington’s heat wave, an outdoor party was held Friday to honor a popular resident of the area who, it happens, has been particularly accomplished in her line of work.

The honoree was Mei Xiang, the Smithsonian National Zoo’s female giant panda and prolific mother who turned 24 on Friday.

In reporting plans for the celebration, the zoo said she was to be given a special ice cake. It sounded refreshing, but seemed modest enough, given her achievements.

Pandas, once considered endangered, are still regarded as vulnerable. As few as 1,864 live in their native habitat in China, the zoo said. Mei Xiang has apparently done her part to ensure the diversity of nature and the survival of her species. The zoo said she has given birth to four cubs that survived to adulthood.

Not only that, but the birth in 2020 of the zoo’s current cub, Xiao Qi Ji, was regarded as miraculous, based on Mei Xiang’s age.

She was 22, panda reproduction is difficult, and the zoo called her the oldest panda to give birth in this country and probably the second-oldest in the world.

So, while we all might have longed for an ice cake on Friday, probably few of us begrudge Mei Xiang hers. Especially since ingredients apparently included leaf-eater biscuits.

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