11 panda facts that are really just an excuse to look at some pandas.

There are a lot of things you might not know about the no longer endangered species.

In September 2016 news broke that the giant panda was no longer considered "endangered" and there was much rejoicing.

Panda party.

Thanks to the incredible conservation efforts of the Chinese government and international groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the species is now classified as "vulnerable." Conservation efforts began back in the 1960s, when four panda reserves were set up in China and hunting the species was outlawed.


It's always a victory when a species starts bouncing back from extinction, but here's so much more to these gentle giants than most people even know.

Here are 11 other awesome reasons to celebrate the great giant panda:

1. Giant pandas have a bone in their wrists that acts like an opposable thumb.

Photo via Virginie Feflour/Getty Images.

Thought apes were the only ones who could grip things like humans? Guess again. Pandas actually have six "digits" on each paw, including something called a radial sesamoid — a bone in their wrist that acts as an extra digit, similar to a thumb, and allows them to hold and munch on thin bamboo rods with ease.

2. Dogs can make great surrogate parents to baby pandas who are abandoned at birth.

That's about the size of a stick of butter. Photo by STR/Getty Images.

While it is rare for a female panda to have twins, if she does, all her attention will go to the larger, more capable cub, and she will abandon the other. This sounds cruel, but it's part of natural selection and, often, the only way any panda cubs survive at all.

Conservationists, however, have discovered dog moms make great substitutes when panda moms reject their young. Dog milk is similar enough to panda milk that if a new dog mom accepts the panda baby into her puppy litter, the baby panda is much more likely to survive.

3. America received its first pair of pandas thanks to President Nixon.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Even though the Cold War was going on, Nixon famously extended an olive branch to Chairman Mao Zedong and the People's Republic of China in 1972.

As a thank-you, Chairman Mao gave America its first two giant pandas: Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling. An estimated 75 million visitors got to see them throughout their long lives at the National Zoo.

4. Female giant pandas only ovulate once a year.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Once a year, female giant pandas become fertile for a mere two to three days. This extremely tight procreation window makes the species' population increase all the more significant and amazing, especially considering females often only have one or two babies at a time.

5. Their bamboo diet is actually not very nutritious.

Photo by Peter Parks/Getty Images.

The giant panda diet consists almost entirely of bamboo, which is rather lacking in nutrients. As such, the species is known to eat an estimated 26-48 pounds of bamboo a day.

6. While the species has been upgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable," climate change may hurt the giant pandas' population growth and land it back on the endangered species list.

Tourist looking at bamboo forest. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

Due to the giant pandas' proclivity for bamboo (and need to eat a lot of it), the species could end up back on the endangered species list because climate change is predicted to eliminate 35% of pandas' bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.

7. Giant pandas play a vital role in the conservation of bamboo forests.

Photo by John Thys/Getty Images.

While eating all that bamboo, giant pandas are helping spread bamboo seeds around, which in turn helps new bamboo plants grow. In saving the giant pandas, China is saving the bamboo forests, and all the other species that live in them.

8. Giant pandas might look like roly-poly land dwellers, but they're actually magnificent tree climbers.

Photo by Karen Bleier/Getty Images.

Their broad paws and retractable claws are extremely helpful in all tree-climbing scenarios.

9. Giant pandas communicate by rubbing their butts on things.

Photo by Roslan Rahman/Getty Images.

Pandas don't see too well, but they have a great sense of smell. When they want to send a message, they rub their anal glands on the ground, rocks, and trees. The message could be anything from, "Hey, let's meet up here!" to "I'm looking to get busy with a mate!"

10. They've got huge molars to crush all those bamboo stalks.

Photo by Paul Bronstein/Getty Images.

The giant panda's diet is 1% carnivorous (meaning, 99% of what they eat is vegetation, though they've been known to eat meat on occasion); giant pandas have the largest molars of all carnivores. Of course, unlike their carnivore cousins, giant pandas use them for crushing bamboo stalks rather than bone.

11. Because the species is elusive and lives in remote, getting an accurate count for the giant panda population is challenging.

The process of estimating the growth of the giant panda population has been one of the most extensive in history for one entire species.

Giant panda hiding (not really). Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.

The official estimate of their numbers is 2,060, but studies have shown there might actually be more like 2,500 to 3,000 out there in the world today.

Whatever the number is, hopefully it will continue going up. There's still much to be done in terms of conservation, but all things considered, the giant panda is definitely on the right track.

Most Shared
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family