Giant Panda Birthday Season Begins at Zoo Atlanta
Friday, August 24, 2012

Details emerge on four elaborate cakes planned for Lun Lun, Yang Yang, Xi Lan and Po

ATLANTA – August 24, 2012 – “Ace of Cakes,” you could be trumped. “Cake Boss,” you may be demoted. The behind-the-scenes machinations of the giant panda keepers at Zoo Atlanta may not have landed a prime-time reality show, but the race is on to create confections worthy of four of the city’s most famous non-humans. Animal care professionals have released two preliminary sketches of the “cakes” planned to commemorate the birthdays of the Zoo’s resident giant pandas, beginning with Lun Lun’s 15th birthday on Saturday, August 25. The three-time mother, likely with 1-year-old son Po in tow, will enter her habitat to find a festive surprise. Described by its designers as “floral and feminine,” the creation will feature two tiers of sugarcane, apples and bananas; a topper of leafy bamboo pieces; and a middle tier doused with diluted elements of three of Lun’s Lun’s preferred scents: mintflavored Listerine, vanilla extract and Tabasco.

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.

“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 Rebecca Snyder, PhD, Curator of Mammals.
“They enjoy exploring and anointing their bodies with various scents, and the bears here have shown us that they do have their favorites.”

Lun Lun will receive her cake at 2 p.m. on August 25 in her habitat in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center. Xi Lan is scheduled to receive his at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 30. Stay tuned for times and details for the birthdays of Yang Yang and Po.

“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 Dwight Lawson, PhD, Deputy Director. “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.”