Too cute to bear- 23 times over! The Chengdu Research Base at the Giant Panda Breeding Center in China announced that 23 cubs were born this year, displaying the overwhelmingly cuddly bunch of black and white fuzz balls for the public to oooh and aaaah over.
The impossibly cute caboodle of cubs was laid out on a green presentation platform, surrounded by caretakers in protective garb (even booties and masks!).
Cameras clicked and a crowd of onlookers smiled at the mostly snoozing bunch. It was a picture perfect moment – until one squirmy little bear in the front proceeded to first stretch, then curiously lean forward to explore. Before the running caretakers could reach it, the little creature tumbled over the one foot edge in what was probably one of the most photographed panda toppling moments in history.
No need to worry, tumbling panda is fine. But the photo opportunity has gone ever more viral than it usually would have, which has attracted global attention to the conservation efforts at the research base in Chengdu, which has developed the world’s largest artificial breeding population of captive giant pandas. It boasts 113 alive right now, as a result of two decades of conservation efforts.
The species has been downgraded to vulnerable from endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, thanks to China’s efforts. Still, habitat loss remains the panda’s major threat, as the bamboo forests that were their natural habitat, continue to disappear.
For now though, the future has 23 more reasons to feel brighter.
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