Tai Shan (pronounced "tie-SHON" and meaning "peaceful mountain"), a giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington, celebrates his fourth birthday today. In honor of Tai Shan's big day, zoo staff crafted him a special icy "cake" -- it's made from water, bamboo, shredded beets and beet juice.
Tai Shan's parents are on loan to the National Zoo from China. Under an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Assn., any offspring they produce while in the U.S. belong to China. So eventually (and probably sooner rather than later), Tai Shan will have to leave the zoo. In the meantime, he's a beloved Washington figure with, we're sure, approval ratings rivaling even Michelle Obama's.
More photos of Tai Shan with his cake after the jump (and if you just can't get enough giant panda, be sure to check out the National Zoo's live panda webcam).
Your morning adorable: Happy birthday to Tai Shan, the National Zoo's giant panda | L.A. Unleashed | Los Angeles Times