It's Panda Birthday Time

Posted on December 19, 2005

The celebration of all things panda-related continues unabated. In China, the 25-year-old panda Basi was feted with flowers, fruit, a birthday cake and a tablet carved with the Chinese character "shou" which means "longevity."
Yesterday hundreds of visitors swarmed into Panda World in the capital city of east China's Fujian Province to join in a special birthday party for Basi. Across the park everyone could hear a special song specially written for the occasion. The panda walked around her pool and later, maybe shy in the face of so many enthusiastic visitors, went to her little cave to enjoy the cake.

Basi is well-known at home and abroad. In 1987, she was sent to San Diego in the United States for a six-month exhibition. She was also what "Panpan," the mascot of the 11th Asia Games, (held in Beijing in 1990) was based on. Basi has already lived quite a long time; the average life of the giant wild panda is only 12 years. "Mom is coming to see you!" called out an old woman. She saved the panda's life 21 years ago in Baoxing County in Sichuan Province.

Li Xingyu, now 50, recalled that when she was working on her farmland on a snowy day in 1984, she saw a panda floating down a stream, unconscious. Li immediately pulled the creature up to the bank and warmed it with her thick jacket. The panda came to and was treated well by villagers. The next day, the panda was sent to a professional breeding center and was named after the Basi Creek, where she was saved. "I haven't seen Basi since I saved her," said Li. "I'm so happy to be invited here to see her and celebrate her birthday. I have four children, but Basi is my fifth child, my little daughter," Li said. She brought fresh bamboo, apples and water from her home in Baoxing County as birthday presents for Basi.
Last month began the Second Fuzhou Panda Culture Festival, which just ended with Basi's birthday celebration. Special stamps, postcards and calendars were have been issued in commemoration of the birthday.

We're so fired up about the end of the Panda Festival that we think we're going to take the rest of the week off to celebrate. Time to order refreshments!

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