National Zoo celebrating panda's first birthday

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National Zoo celebrating panda's first birthday
Panda cub Bao Bao tastes her birthday cake at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Bao Bao's first birthday was celebrated at the zoo with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington on her first birthday, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. The National Zoo is celebrating with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Panda cub Bao Bao is all over her birthday cake at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Today marks her first birthday and the the zoo celebrated with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Saturday marked her first birthday and the the zoo held an event with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Panda cub Bao Bao licks her birthday cake at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Bao Bao's first birthday was celebrated at the zoo with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Bao Bao sits under the fertility' poster while her mother Mei Xiang eats during a Zhuazhou birthday ceremony on her first birthday celebration at the National Zoo on August 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the Zhuazhou ceremony, a baby picks an symbolic object which will supposedly foretell her future. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mei Xiang munches on a snack during her baby Bao Bao's (L) Zhuazhou first birthday ceremony at the National Zoo on August 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the Zhuazhou ceremony, a baby picks a symbolic object which will supposedly foretell the future. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Today marks her first birthday and the the zoo is marking the event with a traditional 'Zhuazhou' ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Bao Bao sits under the longevity poster during a Zhuazhou birthday ceremony on her first birthday celebration at the National Zoo on August 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the Zhuazhou ceremony, a baby picks a symbolic object which will supposedly foretell the future. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bao Bao sits under the longevity poster during a Zhuazhou birthday ceremony on her first birthday celebration at the National Zoo on August 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the Zhuazhou ceremony, a baby picks an symbolic object which will supposedly foretell the future. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bao Bao lies under a fertility' sign during a Zhuazhou birthday ceremony on her first birthday celebration at the National Zoo on August 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. During the Zhuazhou ceremony, a baby picks a symbolic object which will supposedly foretell her future. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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By JESSICA GRESKO

WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Zoo in Washington is throwing a panda party.

Saturday marks the first birthday of panda cub Bao Bao, and she'll get a cake made from frozen fruit juice and other treats like pears and apples to celebrate. 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. A hemlock tree in the front of her yard is one favorite, and she also likes wrestling with a blue cylinder-shaped buoy filled with sand, MacCorkle said. 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.

Panda Bao Bao Turns 1 at National Zoo


She's also learned behaviors that help keepers monitor her health including getting on a scale and standing up when asked. Lately, she's "getting really good" and responding when her name is called, MacCorkle said, and is exploring her yard a little more.

"She's really becoming an independent bear," 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, at between a year and a half and two years old she'll start living independently in her own enclosure. Eventually keepers will also teach her to present her paw to get blood drawn and lie down in order to get an ultrasound.

The National Zoo is one of only four zoos nationwide to have pandas, which are on loan from China. The zoo's first pair of pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were a gift from China following President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to the country. The pair had five cubs while living at the zoo but none survived.

The zoo's current pandas, Bao Bao's mother and father, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, arrived in 2000.

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Follow Jessica Gresko at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko



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