sneezing panda

Achoo! – Revisited

Just over a year ago I saw a movie about the famous sneezing baby panda that became a YouTube sensation. No one really knew the identities of the sneezing baby panda or the mother panda who nearly drops her cookie in shock, although there was much speculation and many guesses. The film “Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie” suggests the mother panda is Mao Mao and the baby panda is Chi Chi. You can read my review of the movie here.

But now, thanks to the wonderful Pandas International, the real identity of the sneezing baby panda and startled mother have been revealed. Why was it so hard to find out who these pandas were? The main issue was that the video was released on YouTube in 2006 and the assumption was that the footage was from 2006. But the footage was actually from a documentary filmed in 1998. This has caused much confusion and incorrect assumptions about who the pandas are. After much consultation and research, Pandas International recently revealed that the mother panda is Xue Xue and the sneezing baby panda is Mei Xiang!

If you know anything about famous pandas you’ll know that Mei Xiang is big news. Mei Xiang lives at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC and is the mother of two very famous pandas; Tai Shan (Butterstick) and Bao Bao.IMG_7812a

Ironically, Tai Shan is one of the stars of “Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie” and plays the role of the sneezing baby panda Chi Chi. As we now know, the sneezing baby panda is not Chi Chi but Mei Xiang, Tai Shan’s mother. So the lovely and talented Tai Shan actually played his mother in the movie 🙂

Baby sister Bao Bao is also a sensation in her own right. She has been a Smithsonian Cover Girl and was voted the Smithsonian’s Most Iconic Item. Both Bao Bao and her parents have had silver coins made in their honour.

Bao Bao is also famous for her incarnation as Princess Pinky in The Panda Chronicles by Anne Belov. Princess Pinky is currently running for President of the United States in 2016. You can follow her exploits at the Chronicles and also her reaction to finding out that the sneezing baby panda is actually her mother! You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

So sit back, grab the popcorn and indulge in some pandamonium! And what better way to enjoy popcorn than in a cuppycake. From the (coming soon) cookbook “The Panda Chronicles Cuppycake Cookbook: Favourite Recipes of the Panda Kindergarten” by Anne Belov and me, is this delicious Popcorn Cuppycake. The Panda Cam Cuppycake is dedicated to all the wonderful pandas who have made us laugh and cry at their onscreen panda play and especially to the sneezing baby panda Mei Xiang and her mother Xue Xue.

Panda Cam Cuppycakes
Popcorn studded cornmeal cuppycakes with butter and cream cheese frosting are the perfect food for watching panda antics.

panda cam

for the cornmeal cuppycakes
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sunflower oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

for the butter and cream cheese frosting
1 cup (8oz/225g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8oz/225g) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar
freshly popped popping corn, cooled

Preheat oven to 220C / 430F
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 paper cases.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cornmeal, almond meal, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a small bowl mix together the buttermilk, oil and eggs.
Add milk mixture to cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the 12 paper cases.
Bake for 10 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cuppycakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting by creaming together the butter and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and beat until frosting reaches a piping consistency. Spoon frosting into a piping bag and pipe onto cuppycakes.
Decorate with popped corn.

ACHOO! The sneeze heard across the world

It started on my Facebook feed with a friend liking the post of someone I didn’t know. The post was about a viral youtube clip being made into a movie. The clip – Sneezing Baby Panda. The film – Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie. So thanks to this Facebook like I got to see a movie I may never have known about otherwise.

The movie, made by the two Australian documentary filmmakers who shot the original footage, is an unusual blend of documentary and fiction. The film is about an Australian zoologist and her struggling zoo. When she sees the footage of the sneezing baby panda on youtube, she decides to travel to China and bring back Chi Chi, the grown up sneezing baby panda. She hopes this will encourage more visitors to come to her zoo. The grown up Chi Chi is played by the famous American born panda Tai Shan.

Tai Shan

Tai Shan: The Movie Star

While it was fun it was also jolting. In between the fiction fun there was documentary information about pandas. The hardest bit to sit through was the footage of the devastating earthquake that hit the Sichuan Province in May, 2008. The damage wrought by the earthquake was immense. One of the many places destroyed was the Woolong Panda Research Centre. Sadly one of the pandas, Mao Mao, was crushed to death in her enclosure. In the film Mao Mao is supposed to be the mother in the Sneezing Baby Panda clip. I’m not sure if this is true or simply a way to bring Mao Mao into the film. That is one of the issues with melding documentary with fiction – you are not quite sure what is real information and what isn’t. But, I am pretty sure that the panda surfing and jumping a shark is not based on fact! So while the film is mostly funny, those of us who remember Mao Mao will be saddened by the reminder of her tragic death. Australia’s Adelaide Zoo panda Wang Wang is Mao Mao’s son. I can’t help but remember his mother whenever I see him.

Wang Wang

Mao Mao’s son Wang Wang

Today is Mother’s Day and I thought I would pay tribute to all the mothers in the wild and in captivity who are doing their job and making sure our beloved animals continue roaming our beautiful planet – our Mother Earth.


hitching a ride koala style


icelandic horse cuddle


hippopotamus snuggles


peccary kiss


watchful tree kangaroo mum


time for a turkey talk



hungry baby fur seal


something better than bamboo – panda milk!