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San Diego Zoo Makes Bamboo Cake For Panda's Second Birthday

The San Diego Zoo has a second birthday celebration planned Tuesday for Xiao Liwu, a giant panda cub.

Zoo nutritionists have created an elaborate cake made of ice, bamboo, apples and carrots with a frosting made of mashed yams, said zoo spokeswoman Darla Davis.

The cake is rumored to be beach-themed, but Davis said she could not confirm that information at this time.


Xiao Liwu, whose name means "little gift," was born July 29, 2012.

Giant pandas in the U.S. are on a research loan to the zoo from China, but Davis said China can't ask for them to be returned until they're at least 3 years old.

Davis does not know if or when Xiao Liwu will go back to China. She said his brother, Yun Zi, did not go back until he was 4 years old.

The cake also serves as special enrichment for the panda, according to the zoo. Enrichment in various forms is

important, as it keeps the young panda stimulated and active, and allows him to show his natural behaviors, zookeepers said.


Xiao Liwu likes bamboo more than fruits and vegetables, so his cake will be heavy on the plant, Davis said. The cub will also get other birthday boxes filled with hay and bamboo chunks.

Xiao Liwu, nicknamed "Mr. Wu,'' will get the cake Tuesday morning around 8:30 a.m., Davis said. His birthday party is scheduled for just before the zoo opens to the public.

Xiao Liwu is the sixth panda born at the zoo.