National Zoo's baby panda Xiao Qi Ji celebrates 1st birthday

There's a birthday bash Saturday at the  Smithsonian's National Zoo.

The zoo is celebrating sweet baby panda Xiao Qi Ji, who  turned one-year-old today.

He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and loves to roll around in the grass just being silly.

But all that showing off is totally warranted when you’re a 58-pound-cub panda on your birthday.

"Pandas just evoke so much emotion with how they act, how they behave and how cute they are," Melissa Katz, a self-described "big panda fan," said Saturday at the zoo.

This rolly polly —a word that I totally made up, has been getting spoiled all day everyday for all the milestones he’s been hitting.

Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji played with the snow for the first time in February as snowflakes fell Sunday at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

"He starting to participate in training, so he’s learning all the things that mom and dad already know, which helps us to take care of them better, essentially," said Bryan Amaral, senior curator at the zoo.

Xiao Qi Ji means "little miracle" in Mandarin. He got his name in part because his mother, Mei Song, at 22 years old was the oldest giant panda to give birth in the United States.

Amaral said it's nice that animal lovers are able to celebrate with Xiao Qi Ji in-person. The baby panda was born during lockdown last year.

"It’s nice to be able to open up and have something really fantastic to celebrate," he said.

Ashley Jaeger, one animal lover who attended the panda's birthday party, shares her birthday with Xiao Qi Ji.

"I’m filled with inspiration and hope every time I see them, and I think pandas themselves represent a lot of hope for conservation efforts," she said.

After crushing a giant ice cake in the shape of a 1, Xiao Qi Ji climbed and played on his favorite tree. 


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