Watch an adorable baby panda's first year

LAURA VITTO
Last updated 12:02 20/08/2014
Panda
Reuters

PLAYFUL FELLOW: Bao Bao the giant panda at four months old.

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After a year of bamboo, growth and lazy days spent in trees, giant panda cub Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday on August 23 at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

To celebrate the exciting milestone, the Smithsonian Channel takes a peek back at Bao Bao's first year as she grows from a teensy, 4.5-ounce cub into a playful and curious 40-pound bear.

The short film also looks to Bao Bao's future as the team at the National Zoo prepares her for a life on her own, without her mother Mei Xiang to help her along.

Scroll down or click here to see Bao Bao in action.

The cub is one of less than 2,000 endangered giant pandas left on Earth. According to Laurie Thompson, one of the biologists studying and caring for Bao Bao, her team's goal is to increase the number of pandas born in captivity before eventually increasing the number of non-captive animals in the wild.

CBS D.C. reports that zoo visitors are invited to join in on the celebration by decorating a giant birthday card and munching on Chinese noodles, a Chinese birthday tradition.

Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity: Bao Bao is only the second surviving cub born at the National Zoo since 1972. Her brother Tia Shan returned to China in 2010.

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This article originally appeared on Mashable.

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