WHAT do you give a panda for a birthday gift? In the case of Yang Guang the ideal treat is a cake made out of ice and bamboo.
Edinburgh Zoo’s male giant panda celebrated his 12th birthday yesterday and was spoilt rotten by the staff.
It’s the very first time we’ve made a cake out of ice for him and it was wonderful to see his instant reaction - he loved itSharon Hatton
Zookeepers placed the large, green cake in Yang Guang’s outdoor enclosure which featured a number 12 made out of bamboo.
Yang Guang was born in 2003 at the Bifenxia Panda Breeding Centre outside Ya’an, near the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province at China.
It is his third birthday since coming to Edinburgh with female panda Tian Tian.
Sharon Hatton, senior carnivore keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said that it was wonderful to see the giant panda’s reaction to his gifts. She said: “This is Yang Guang’s third birthday at the zoo.
“It’s the very first time we’ve made a cake out of ice for him and it was wonderful to see his instant reaction – he loved it.
“He was rolling the ice cake around, throwing it into his pond, rubbing his cold paws over his face after touching it and there were even a few footy moves in there, too.
“Obviously he doesn’t know it’s his birthday but enrichment is an important part of animals’ lives as it provides added psychological and physical stimulus.
“It’s also enjoyable for staff and visitors alike to see natural behaviours elicited in Yang Guang.”
The two pandas have celebrated their previous birthdays at Edinburgh Zoo with special panda cakes and beautiful bamboo number structures.
Yang Guang and Tian Tian are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.
In June, the zoo confirmed that Tian Tian had conceived after being artificially inseminated, but it could be some time before experts know whether she is pregnant. A panda cub would lead to a boom in visitor numbers.