11 September, 2015
Giant panda Bai Yun celebrated her 24th birthday this week at the San Diego Zoo in California, where she has lived since 1996. Her caretakers surprised her with treats and gifts.
They said she came out of her bedroom "nice and slow," went straight to the cinnamon and honey on her swing, and then destroyed a few boxes.
She then walked over to her cake, which took her about 15 minutes to eat. Bai Yun's cake included ice, apples, carrots and yams.
Caretakers also gave her boxes full of hay and pieces of pine trees. The curious panda seemed to enjoy all her gifts.
With only about 2,000 giant pandas left in the world, many scientists consider Bai Yun herself a gift. She has had six cubs at the San Diego Zoo. And, she is one of the oldest known pandas to have given birth. Bai Yun's experience has permitted researchers to learn a lot about how pandas act, grow babies, give birth, and care for their cubs.
The information has helped scientists at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where the youngest giant panda in the U.S. lives. He was born on August 22.
Bai Yun will likely not become pregnant again. But now she is offering researchers a chance to study something else – how pandas grow old.
I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.
Julie Taboh reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
treats – n. things that taste good and are not eaten often
curious – adj. having a desire to learn or know more about something or someone
cubs – n. a young animal that eats meat, including a bear, fox or lion