WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Hundreds turned out Saturday to celebrate the National Zoo's only baby panda, Bao Bao's first birthday. It was as if it was a royal celebration.
Zoo supporters in Panda hats and stickers snapped away with local and national media as the cub received a special frozen fruitcake for her milestone.
"Each birth is such a significant event that being able to celebrate Bao Bao's birthday is a huge success," said National Zoo Panda Keeper, Marty Dearie. Dearie has been working with Bao Bao ever since her birth. Bao Bao was actually a twin but was the only cub to survive.
Bao Bao is also a Giant Panda, which is an endangered species from China. Handlers say deforestation forced Giant Pandas out of their habitats adding to the dwindling populations. Other difficulties, such as breeding, haven't helped the Giant Panda either. According to Dearie, females only get a few days each year to reproduce.
U.S. scientists and handlers have been working jointly with Chinese scientists to help fight extinction, some methods tried include artificial insemination. Now, Dearie says, there are about 2,000 Giant Pandas living in the world. About 1,600 are actually free.
Bao Bao is the second baby panda to ever live at the National Zoo in its 125 years of existence, providing the extra excitement Saturday.
"How many times do you get to see an endangered species celebrate a birthday," said one mother as she snapped away with her iPhone camera. Some spectators came from as far as Maine to take part in Saturday's events which included a traditional Chinese birthday ceremony called, the Zhuazhou Ceremony.
In this ceremony, several objects are placed in front of a baby. Each object is symbolic and is meant to predict what type of luck a child will have in their future.
Chinese Ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, smiled saying Bao Bao made a, "logical choice." When presented with three posters reading certain words, Bao Bao chose in this order: good health, long life & many cubs. "It's a very good example of the achievement of what we can accomplish together," said Ambassador Cui on the work both U.S. and Chinese scientists have done to ensure the Giant Panda's species and Bao Bao's health.
Bao Bao was born August 23, 2013 at 5:32 p.m. weighing 4.8 ounces. She was born pink with white fur and didn't open her eyes until mid-October 2013.