Birthday Panda-Monium

Got your black and white on? It’s the week to look, act and – if you’d like – eat like a panda.

The San Diego Zoo is celebrating not one, not two, but three panda birthdays this week.

Guests enjoyed watching Su Lin enjoy her special ice cake Monday as she turned five.

This birthday is a special milestone for the zoo because under the agreement with China, pandas born in San Diego are to return to China after they’ve turned three. For Su Lin, a destructive earthquake last year postponed her relocation.

Visitors watched as Su Lin patiently licked the honey poured on her cake.

“I’ve never seen a panda before,” said Jason Marshall of Fayetteville, Ark. Marshall said the zoo was the main reason his family decided to vacation in San Diego. “It’s pretty amazing. We’ve been in here maybe 10 minutes and we’ve seen an amazing little creature,” he said.

“People just adore them. They have a magical attraction to people,” said senior mammal keeper Kathy Hawk.

“You get emotionally attached to these animals,” said Hawk. “I’m really very fortunate to be able to take care of these guys.”

Each cub is different according to Hawk. The girls are more adventurous while the boys are a little more shy, even suspicious she said. Su Lin is more sensitive than the other cubs celebrating this week.

Zhen Zhen, the acrobat of the cubs, celebrates her third birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 3 and Yun Zi, the most laid back of the trio, turns one on Aug 5.

A week of special events is planned including extra sessions with a panda researcher to answer guests’ questions. There will also be a daily plush panda giveaway.

There will be costumed characters traveling around the park and children will be able to write a special birthday message to the pandas.

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