San Diego Zoo's giant panda Yun Zi celebrates 4th birthday

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Zoo held a fourth birthday party Monday for giant panda Yun Zi.

He's the fifth offspring of mother Bai Yun. His father is Gao Gao.

Yun Zi, whose name means "Son of Cloud," was the most recent giant panda born at the zoo until last year, when Bai Yun gave birth to Xiao Liwu, or "Little Gift."

Like at last week's first birthday party for his little brother, known to zoo employees as "Mr. Wu," Yun Zi received an ice cake stuffed with his favorite food, along with gift boxes to play with.

The giant pandas at the zoo are on loan from the Chinese government, which has the option of calling them back to their native country after they reach age 3. No request has been made regarding Yun Zi.

The zoo is one of four in the United States that participate in the loan program. For a hefty fee to China, the zoos get to study the critically endangered species up close and help with breeding. At the same time, the pandas make for highly popular attractions.

Only around 1,600 pandas are believed to be left in the wild in China, in part because of deforestation and the expansion of farming. The bamboo-eating panda has lost much of its forest habitat in the mountainous areas of southwest China to roads and railroads, according to the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund.

View the San Diego Zoo's Panda Cam here (mobile users:


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