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Happy birthday, Zoo Atlanta pandas! Enjoy the (ice) cake!


Mei Lan enjoyed an ice cake for her second birthday in September, 2008. AJC file photo

The panda birthday bash at Zoo Atlanta this weekend will surely draw a crowd, and not just the kind the kind angling to get a corner piece of birthday cake.

Mei Lan fans want to celebrate the Atlanta-born panda’s 3rd birthday before she departs for China in mid-February. Zoo Atlanta is still trying to raise $500,000 to keep the other giant pandas here, but has raised only about $120,000 so far, according to the AJC story, “A panda party, parting.”


Kate Roca and Heather Roberts add bamboo to an ice cake on Sept. 16, 2009. AJC/Elissa Eubanks

You wouldn’t want to eat panda cake, anyway.

As in the past, Zoo Atlanta staffers put together ice cakes for their black-and-white beauties. The recipe changes a little every year, but giant panda keeper JT Svoke provided a list of ingredients and a details about what they’ll look like when, um, baked.

Note: I provide this information because it’s interesting, not because I think it would taste good for you, your dog, or anything but a giant panda.

Panda Ice Cake Recipe

Water for freezing
Food coloring for each layer
Fruit, sweet potatoes or bamboo
Cinnamon and mouthwash, to smell

1.Mix water and food coloring for each layer of ice cake. Add items for scent, such as cinnamon or mouthwash. (”Pandas really enjoy” it, and “rub all over themselves.” Hey, what did you do with cake at your third birthday party?)
2. Cut fruit, potatoes and bamboo into (panda) bite-size pieces. This year, some fruit will be formed into the age of the pandas, who each get their own cake.
3. Freeze, serve and enjoy!

Want to go? Zoo Atlanta’s “Pandamonium” panda birthday party. $13.99-$18.99 for zoo admission, free for children ages 2 and younger. 800 Cherokee Ave., Atlanta. 404-624-9453,

Think you know all about Zoo Atlanta’s pandas? Take our panda quiz!

3 comments Add your comment

Allen Nyhuis

September 20th, 2009
7:52 pm

I really do hope that Atlantans will step up and support their Zoo Atlanta in their efforts to keep these amazing pandas. They are one of only 4 zoos on this Hemisphere with giant pandas.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos


September 20th, 2009
9:22 am

Have you tried It’s a Panda themed search engine.

[...] Zoo Atlanta’s Pandamonium birthday bash is on. It runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. [...]