The San Diego Zoo helped giant panda Xiau Liwu celebrate his first birthday late last month with a 200-pound, three-tier ice cake featuring bamboo, mashed carrots, sweet potatoes and apples.
Xiao Liwu, aka “Mr. Wu,” is the sixth panda cub born at the San Diego Zoo. His mother, Bai Yun, has given birth to all six, three girls and three boys.
Giant pandas are an endangered species native to bamboo forests in the mountains of western China. According to the 1999-2003 census, only 1,596 pandas remained in the wild. The current census underway should be completed in 2014.
Wild pandas eat as much as 36 pounds of bamboo daily, but Xiau Liwu isn’t gnoshing yet. “The cub is primarily nursing and doesn't have teeth yet to eat bamboo,” said Jenny Mehlow, a San Diego Zoo spokesperson.
But his mom chows down. “Bai Yun is given 55 to 65 pounds of bamboo per day since she is nursing,” Mehlow said. After the cub is weaned in about six months, his mom will receive about 10 pounds less bamboo.
Info: San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park, (619) 231-1515. Admission for ages 12 and older costs $44.