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Bao Bao the Panda Turns 1 (Photos)

Happy birthday to DC's littlest giant bear.

Happy birthday, Bao Bao! Photograph by Connor Mallon/Smithsonian National Zoo.

The birth of a giant-panda cub is big news around the world, and Washington is no exception. After Mei Xiang and Tian Tian’s first cub, Tai Shan, was sent to China in 2010 a few months before his fifth birthday and their second cub, born in 2012, lived for just six days, Bao Bao, born in 2013, has been a huge source of excitement for Washingtonians and tourists alike—not to mention a generator of sweet, sweet merch dollars.

Bao Bao’s first birthday is Saturday, and she’s come a long way from her helpless, hairless early days. She weighs 40 pounds and can now eat solid food, climb trees, and stand on her hind legs, according to Smithsonian Magazine‘s recap of her first year. To celebrate her progress, the zoo is hosting a birthday party at which guests can try bear-themed snacks and decorate cards for Bao Bao and her keepers. The zoo is also asking people to tweet with the hashtag #BaoBaoBday to show their support for panda conservation efforts. 

This might be one of the few occasions Washingtonians have to celebrate with Bao Bao’s birthday with the guest of honor present: Though giant pandas can live for 20 or 30 years, this particular baby bear is scheduled to be sent to China in 2017.

Click through the slideshow for some highlights from Bao Bao’s first year, and check out the links below for more about giant pandas.

Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.

How the Giant Pandas Get Their Names
A Timeline of Giand Pandas in the United States
Bye, Bye, Butterstick: Tai Shan Goes to China
Will Any Pandas Stay Here?