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Pandas celebrate 50 years at National Zoo by devouring ice cake

Mei Xiang, Xiao Qi Ji
Posted at 3:18 PM, Apr 18, 2022

WASHINGTON — Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the National Zoo's historic panda exchange agreement with the Chinese government.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the zoo’s most famous tenants, mama Mei Xiang and her cub, Xiao Qi Ji, ate "cake" in front of adoring crowds.

According to the zoo, it was made from frozen apple and pineapple juice, apple, carrot, pear, sugar cane, banana, and yellow groove bamboo.

It took them about 15 minutes to devour it.

Zoo officials said that the dad panda, 24-year-old male Tian Tian had a similarly decorated cake later in the day.

Saturday's event was in honor of President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972.

According to Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, once back in the U.S., first lady Patricia Nixon mentioned how much she loved visiting the pandas in China.

Hearing this, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gifted the National Zoo its first pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, who arrived in April 1972.

The zoo also celebrated the success of its global giant panda breeding program, which has helped bring the lovable creatures back from the brink of extinction.