DUJIANGYAN, China — What happens when a panda turns 10?
You get cake.
And if you're famous like Tai Shan the giant panda, your human friends come and give you well wishes.
On Thursday at the almost-new Dujiangyan panda base in China's Sichuan province, Tai Shan had a party. There were balloons and panda-shaped signs under misty, drizzly skies.
The centerpiece: a frozen concoction of apples and carrots.
Tai Shan was the first panda born at the National Zoo in Washington to survive for any length of time. His birth and playful antics captured the hearts of a city. (Can we agree he likes mugging for the camera?)
Under an agreement with China, he was sent to that country in 2010, a moment that broke hearts and brought tears to many Washingtonians.
Undoubtedly the next life moment for Tai Shan: the possibility of fatherhood.
Breeding pandas is complicated, and officials here say they need to find Tai Shan the right mate.
But on this day, all Tai Shan had to do was deconstruct his birthday present and shoot glances at the cameras of onlookers.
Tai Shan has seemingly adapted to life in China — even becoming a bilingual panda. His handler says Tai Shan has learned the Sichuan dialect of Mandarin. But also responds in English.
So "Happy Birthday" was first sung in Mandarin, followed by the English version.
Tai Shan nibbled at the carrots on his cake and clawed at the fruit encased in ice. But this show of panda force proved too much: the frozen cakes skittered across the grass and down the hill in his enclosure.
So Tai Shan went to take a birthday nap.
Such is a panda's life.