Baby panda Fu Bao celebrates her first birthday

Fu Bao, the giant panda born in Korea’s Everland theme park, celebrated her first birthday on July 20. She has grown a lot in the last year and learned from her mother the things a panda needs to know.

She’s grown so much

It’s impressive to see just how much Fu Bao has grown in the last 12 months. At birth she was a small and fragile-looking pink, almost hairless little thing, but as she went through the phases of early panda development over the last year, she grew the trademark panda black and white fur coat and followed her mother Ai Bao in everything she does. When panda mom Ai Bao gave birth last summer, her baby measured just 16.5 cm in length and weighed no more than 197 grams. On her first birthday she tipped the scales at a heavy 40.6 kilograms, more than 200 times her weight at birth.

(left to right) Fu Bao just after birth, at 100 days, and during her first birthday.

Along with her physical growth, Fu Bao has come to show her wild panda instincts and behaviors. Her fore- and hindlegs, as well as her neck muscles, are stronger than ever. Playing with her mother has taken on an aspect of wrestling now, as Ai Bio has been training Fu Bao through their regular playfighting to be able to defend herself and to attack when necessary. She is also faster and stronger, so when she charges at her zookeepers they must duck out of the way.

For Fu Bao, wrestling with her mother is more than simple.

With much practice, the young panda has honed her tree climbing skills. Not only can Fu Bao start and finish a climb by herself, she can now also push past her mother if she tries to prevent her from climbing. Sometimes when she’s alone, Fu Bao climbs a tree and calmly waits for mother Ai Bao, and she has also learned how to climb right up to the top and looking at her surroundings.

Having mastered the art of tree-climbing, Fu Bao scampers up a nearby trunk at any frightening noise and only comes down again after having assessed the situation and feeling safe. This means that she has learned well to escape up a tree at the first sign of danger.

Trees have now become Fu Bao’s playground and lounge room.

Happy birthday Fu Bao!

On her special day on July 20, Fu Bao’s zookeepers joined her in the enclosure for a quiet celebration with some tasty treats. At a Korean first birthday, it is customary that the baby be seated in front of various objects. Whichever item is grasped first predicts the course of that baby’s future. For example, if the youngster picks up money, he or she will become rich; if a stethoscope is seized, the baby will grow up to be a doctor, and so on.

The birthday girl Fu Bao arrives at her party.

For Fu Bao’s first birthday, more panda-appropriate things were laid out before her: apples symbolizing popularity, bamboo standing for long life, carrots for good health, and a piece of Chinese cornbread, or wotou, for happiness. After an initial playful wrestle with her keeper, Fu Bao grabbed the wotou with both paws, aligning her destiny with her name, which means a treasure that brings happiness. 

Fu Bao chose a tasty piece of Chinese cornbread to nibble on.

Under the loving care of her mother and zookeepers, Fu Bao has successfully finished the first year of her journey into the world. Keep up with Fu Bao’s growth and adventures as she continues to mature into adulthood.

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