50th panda anniversary celebration at the Nationwide Zoo

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Michael Bzdil, 8, peered more than the fence that lined the habitat at the National Zoo in the Woodley Park community of Northwest Washington. He watched as pandas crawled out of the gate towards the significant fruitcake that was established out for them on Saturday.

“It says 50,” Michael said, pointing to one particular of the cakes. “You know why?” his mom, Mavourneen Bzdil, requested. Michael shook his head. “Because it has been 50 decades because the pandas have lived here.”

Saturday formally marked the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the very first huge pandas at the Countrywide Zoo as a gift from the Chinese govt on April 16, 1972. Since then, tens of millions of men and women from across the country have flocked to the District to see the black and white bears.

Bryan Amaral, senior curator of mammals at the Nationwide Zoo, said it is a location location for travelers, but exclusively for “panda fans,” due to the fact it is one of the 3 zoos in the United States where huge pandas reside. The other people are living at Zoo Atlanta and the Memphis Zoo. Under an settlement in between China and the United States, cubs born in captivity at the Nationwide Zoo are sent to China prior to the age of four.

“This the 1st place I have ever worked that has at any time had pandas,” claimed Amaral, who has experienced the task for five a long time. “There was unquestionably a understanding curve and adjustment to accurately how gaga folks are in excess of pandas.”

The caking was stuffed with correct Washington “pandamania.” The crowd kept their eyes centered on the 3 pandas living at the zoo: Xiao Qi Ji, a 1-yr-previous male, Mei Xiang, a 23-calendar year-previous woman, and Tian Tian, a 24-year-aged male. The zoo has hosted other pandas around the decades, like Mei Xiang and Tian Tian’s other youngsters, Bao Bao and Bei Bei.

Some of the attendees have been next the life of the beloved animals in the course of the pandemic on the large panda cam, the most well-known webcam at the zoo. Around 4.2 million consumers have watched the dwell stream considering that the delivery of Xiao Qi Ji on Aug. 21, 2020.

Pandas arrived to the zoo a long time in the past and improved the town permanently

Sara Cureton started off watching the cub when he was born through the stay stream from her home in New Jersey. She drove 5 hours to attend the celebration. “Luckily I have watched some of these excellent panda celebrations that the zoo places on virtually from household, so I have noticed these good cakes for them,” Cureton, 63, stated. “But I have never been listed here in person to see the pandas love them. It was just as fantastic as I hoped.”

The “pandaversary” cakes ended up prepared from frozen diluted apple and pineapple juices, sugar cane, and rehydrated powdered carrots and sweet potatoes. They ended up decorated with apples, pears, bananas, carrots and sweet potatoes. Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang and Countrywide Zoo director Brandie Smith included the ending touches of bamboo.

There were being also treats for people. The Chinese embassy brought special bao buns with a panda facial area to hand out to readers as they arrived through. Both equally Qin and Smith shared in opening remarks that the application at the zoo was evidence of profitable conservation endeavours amongst China and the United States to preserve the world-wide giant panda population.

“People will ask me if giant pandas get far too a lot consideration,” Smith claimed in an job interview after the celebration. “The fact is this is what it takes to preserve an endangered species. You require not just men and women in a single region to recognize the animal, but you need to have people today about the globe to be.”

The crowd cheered as 1 of the pandas knocked above the zero atop the cake. Numerous donned themed equipment with panda shirts, panda masks and panda hats.

Below is some advice when you pay a visit to the pandas at the Nationwide Zoo

Michael was not putting on any themed apparel, but he pointed out he experienced several stuffed pandas at house. His favorite 1 is the largest a single, he defined, named Bao Bao, in honor of the panda who lived at the zoo until finally 2017. Both equally he and Bao Bao were being born in 2013, a delighted coincidence that released his love for pandas. He bought up “a whole large amount early” to make it in time for the celebration considering the fact that the Bzdils are living in Maryland, but it was truly worth it to see them, he said.

Everley Greenwell, 5, and Lorelai Greenwell, 6, chose to carry their mini cameras so they could capture pictures of the pandas relocating around the zoo. Everley mentioned her preferred aspect was seeing the pandas enjoy jointly. Lorelai preferred viewing the pandas take in the cake.

They both of those knew it was a exclusive working day. Their mother, Kayleigh Greenwall, leaned down to request, “What was right now termed?” Everley quickly replied, “Panda working day!”