Washington D.C.’s giant panda cub, Tai Shan, officially celebrated his fourth birthday this morning–complete with singing, guests and a massive, three-tiered “veggie-sicle” cake, Smithsonian’s National Zoo said.
“The frozen masterpiece was made over the course of two weeks by Zoo commissary staff by freezing a combination of water, beets and beet juice while enhancing it with bamboo and fruit. Tai quickly took to the frozen treat, licking at the ice, spotting his furry face with the melting beet juice.
Tai Shan is on the cusp of adulthood, the zoo added “At age four, he is considered a teenager in ‘bear years.'”
Tai Shan (pronounced tie-SHON, meaning “Peaceful Mountain”) was born early in the morning on July 9, 2005. He is the first offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the National Zoo’s second pair of giant pandas. They were born at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province.
The birth of Tai Shan was a triumph for the National Zoo. Breeding of pandas in captivity has been difficult to achieve, particularly outside China.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo photos by Mehgan Murphy