It was a big day at Zoo Atlanta as celebrations began for the giant panda birthday season.
Lun Lun celebrated her 15th birthday Saturday with a unique cake that could trump those on Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss.
The three-time mother entered her habitat to find a festive surprise. The creation featured two tiers of sugarcane, apples and bananas with a topper of leafy bamboo pieces. The middle tier was doused with Lun Lun's favorite scents: mint-flavored Listerine, vanilla extract and Tabasco.
"It might seem odd to offer giant pandas scents like Listerine and Tabasco, but this is actually fantastic enrichment for them. Scent is a primary mode of communication for this species," said Curator of Mammals Rebecca Snyder, Ph.D. "They enjoy exploring and anointing their bodies with various scents, and the bears here have shown us that they do have their favorites."
On Thursday, August 30, Lun Lun's second-born male Xi Lan, will turn 4 while enjoying his own custom design. Xi Lan's cake will feature bamboo, sugarcane and sweet potato pieces, with scents of cinnamon, classic Listerine and Tabasco. The cake-making will continue for the 15th birthday of male Yang Yang on September 9, followed by Po's second birthday on November 3.
"We're very proud of the creativity and ingenuity shown by our animal care professionals, and the giant pandas' birthdays are just one way to showcase some of those efforts," said Deputy Director Dwight Lawson, Ph.D. "Enrichment is a critical component of animal stewardship at Zoo Atlanta, and as our members and guests will be able to see, it's as much fun for the visitors as it is for the animals."
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