Sai Tam said she wasn't disappointed. She and her adult daughter awoke at 5 a.m. in New York. They drove a relative who uses a wheelchair and who had followed the cub's development online to get a glimpse in person.

By the time the three made it to the front of the line, near noon, Bei Bei was long asleep.

"It is really meaningful to be here for the birthday, we feel like we know them. We watch them on the webcam - eat, sleep, eat" Tam said.

Edith Morris also said it was worth it. She had driven her four children, ages 3 to 10, from Columbia, Maryland. It was Bei Bei's birth a year ago that prompted the family to become members of the zoo to get early access to the baby's public events.

Morris said she makes the effort for the kids to celebrate the panda's milestones at the zoo, knowing the animals' time in the District is ultimately short. "We're so sad about Bao Bao," said her 10-year-old daughter, speaking of the first cub that grew up in the lens of a webcam and that is expected to be returned to China next year when it turns 4.

Washington Post