On August 20, 2016, the Chinese Embassy in the United States and Smithsonian National Zoological Park co-hosted a Zhuazhou ceremony to celebrate panda cub Bei Bei's first birthday. Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama sent their congratulatory messages to Bei Bei. Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Director of the Zoo Dennis Kelly, and thousands of American people joined the event.
Amb. Cui read out Mme. Peng's message. Peng said in her message: "As Bei Bei's first birthday draws near, I am sending greetings from China, the home country of pandas half a world away. I would also like to say a big thank you to the staff of the National Zoo for taking good care of Bei Bei and to all American friends who love and cherish pandas. The giant panda is China's national treasure. Bei Bei's birth is the fruit of collaboration between China and the United States and a strong symbol of our friendship. In September 2015, Mrs. Obama and I visited the National Zoo and named Bei Bei together. Time Flies! Now, Bei Bei is one year old. From the other side of the Pacific, together with all Chinese who love Bei Bei, I wish him a healthy and happy childhood!"
Director Kelly read out the message of Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama congratulated Bei Bei and said "Happy Birthday, Bei Bei!" from her Twitter and Instagram. She also posted a picture of herself together with Mme. Peng when they visited the National Zoo and named Bei Bei in September 2015.
Cui and Kelly also spoke at the panda yard. Cui said: "Panda conservation is a good example of China-U.S. cooperation. Over the decades, China and the U.S. have made joint efforts to protect endangered species and the environment. I hope the two sides will continue to strengthen and expand cooperation in various fields, so as to benefit the two peoples as well as the international community". Kelly spoke highly of the long-term cooperation between American and Chinese scientists on the panda program. "Hosting the Zhuazhou ceremony for Bei Bei is to share the Chinese cultural tradition. American people and Chinese people have a lot to learn from each other," he said.
Three banners drawn by the children of Chinese diplomats were set up in the panda yard, respectively featuring a China knot as symbol of luck and friendship, a peach as symbol of long life, and bamboo as a symbol of health and habitat. When the ceremony began, Bei Bei walked out of her enclosure and strolled around in the yard. At last, with the guidance of his mom Mei Xiang, Bei Bei chose the China knot banner. The audience cheered and applauded. Thousands of American people joined the celebration. They had a great time with the beloved pandas, enjoyed the birthday noodles prepared by the Chinese Embassy, and received beautiful Bei Bei birthday postcards as souvenirs.
Bei Bei was born on August 22, 2015. His parents are Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, who arrived in the U.S. in 2000. The cub was named by Peng Liyuan and Michelle Obama in September 2015 during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the U.S..