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San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub Celebrates 1st Birthday

Photo of Baby Panda Hua MeiThe giant panda cub Hua Mei (pronounced Hwa May) celebrated her first birthday with cakes sculpted from ice – bamboo and chunks of carrot frozen inside – at the World-Famous San Diego Zoo. She has been in the public spotlight ever since she was born at 11:40 a.m. August 21, 1999 at the Zoo's Pacific Bell Giant Panda Research Station. Hua Mei, the daughter of mother Bai Yun and father Shi Shi, is the first giant panda born in the Western Hemisphere since 1990, and the first in the United States ever to survive past four days. She's been cared for by her mother since birth. Researchers have monitored mother and daughter closely but have not needed to intervene other than to perform a weekly health check on the cub.

"Roughly 350,000 people saw Hua Mei's first movements and footsteps on the San Diego Zoo's live Web site Panda Cam," said Dave Nichols, regional president of Pacific Bell. "It's our great pleasure to be part of the team that brought her into daylight for the world's continued enjoyment and study."

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