News & Politics

The National Zoo’s Baby Panda Is Turning One. Here’s How to Celebrate the Royal Birthday.

Watch Xiao Qi Ji eat his birthday cake on the Giant Panda Cam.

Happy Birthday, Baby! Photo courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

The year 2020 was objectively dreadful, but it wasn’t all bad. Case in point: The National Zoo’s baby panda was born last year on August 21, a wee stick of butter who has grown into a handsome young bear. In honor of Xiao Qi Ji’s first birthday on Saturday, the Zoo is inviting his infinite admirers to log on and watch the cub cutie celebrate his big milestone.

Like many pandemic babies, Xiao Qi Ji’s birthday festivities will be a virtual event. Loyal Panda Cam viewers already know that the bear has been showered with gifts from his keepers all week long. But the celebration culminates on Saturday at 7:30 AM with a livestream of the panda receiving his birthday cake—a seasonally-appropriate ice gateau. Panda parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian will also receive chilly desserts of their own.

If you’re not eager to set an early alarm to watch someone eat cake without a slice of your own, the video will be available on the Zoo’s website after the event. Panda fans can also still secure entry passes to the Zoo for Saturday.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.