Bittersweet: All 3 giant pandas to leave DC

By ZHAO HUANXIN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-08-22 09:12
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Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji enjoys an ice cake at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC, the United States, on Aug 21, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

When Xiao Qi Ji ambled over to his fruitsicle, sniffing before munching, a large crowd that had been gathering since early morning sang Happy Birthday.

The 3-year-old looked up, paused for a while, or perhaps granting a photo-op, and then continued to savor the frozen delicacy.

To the cheers of the audience, Xiao Qi Ji put aside his icy treat and headed over to a fallen tree. He sat there and then eventually went to sleep on his back, providing a bellyful of his vigor and naughtiness.

For zoo Director Brandie Smith, the birth of Xiao Qi Ji to his older parents — in their 20s — was really a miracle, given that he was conceived and born during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think this whole giant panda program has been one miracle after the other: the birth of this incredible animal, the success of the collaboration, and the fact that we're saving an endangered species one giant panda at a time," Smith told China Daily.

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