Panda declines cake on first Scottish birthday

Edinburgh Zoo panda Tian Tian has marked her first birthday on British soil as she turned nine.

• Tian Tian refuses to eat birthday cake on her first birthday on UK soil

• Hundreds gathered to catch a glimpse of panda as three-tiered panda cake was presented

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Zookeepers made a three-tiered panda cake with carrots instead of candles for Tian Tian, but the birthday girl did not seem too impressed with her gift and refused to eat it this morning.

She wandered round her enclosure then headed inside for a lie down, without touching her cake, as hundreds of visitors queued at their enclosure to catch a glimpse.

Zoo keepers smothered the rice and soya cake with honey and said Tian Tian would be able to smell it across the enclosure, but she appeared not to be hungry.

Her birthday comes 10 days after that of the zoo’s other panda, male Yang Guang, who is also nine.

The pair have been a popular attraction since they arrived in Scotland from the Ya’an reserve in Chengdu, China on December 4 last year. They went on display for the first time on December 16.

Andrew Laing, carnivore keeper at the zoo, joked that he thinks Tian Tian was in a bit of a bad birthday mood as she turned another year older.

“It’s her last birthday before she reaches double figures so she maybe was a bit upset by that,” he said.

“She is quite a picky animal when she wants to be so she’ll no doubt go to it later and enjoy it in her own time.

“We’ve given her one of her favourites, panda cake, which she usually gets every few days but she is getting an extra portion and some carrots and honey which are also her favourites so I’m sure she’ll get round to eating it.”

The exact ingredients of the cake are kept secret and Mr Laing would only say that it contains soya, rice and nuts. It is made from a recipe passed on by the pandas’ original keepers in China, which is kept under lock and key at Edinburgh Zoo.

Tian Tian (meaning Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) are the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years and Edinburgh Zoo is their home for the next 10 years.