Atlanta Zoo's panda twins celebrate first brithday

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Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S., turned 1 on September 3, 2017. Accompanied by their mother, Lun Lun, the birthday pair entered their dayroom habitat in Zoo Atlanta’s Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center to find two ice “cakes” and gift boxes filled with treats.

Designed and created at the Zoo by celebrity panda pop-makers at King of Pops with assistance from the giant panda care team, the ice “cakes” featured frozen produce such as chopped apples and sweet potatoes and “frosting” made from leafeater biscuits, another regular part of the giant pandas’ diet that provide vitamins and minerals.

Although Ya Lun and Xi Lun have begun nibbling at many of the adult giant pandas’ foods, especially bamboo, they will continue to nurse for several months.

Fewer than 1,900 giant pandas are estimated to remain the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta.

Although the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the species’ status from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2016, giant pandas remain heavily reliant on conservation programs. Their threats include habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.