5 adorable panda photos to get you excited for Hong Kong's first baby panda

A small, squeaky, hairless mammal is about to make the world a lot cuter.

Last week, the staff at Ocean Park, a theme park and zoo in Hong Kong, confirmed that their giant panda Ying Ying is pregnant! According to BBC, she'll give birth to a baby panda within the week.


Ying Ying and her best panda friend, Le Le, were both given to Ocean Park as panda cubs in 2007. This is them in 2009, on their 4th birthdays. Photo by Antony Dickson/Getty images.

Ying Ying's baby will be the first giant panda born in Hong Kong.

Ying Ying took a baby-making vacation earlier this year to Sichuan, China, where she got busy with two male pandas. The breeding program also used artificial insemination to help the process along.

"To provide Ying Ying with the best pre- and post-natal care, we have minimized noises and disturbances in her environment and extended our monitoring to 24 hours a day," said Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education for Ocean Park.

Ying Ying's name means "graceful." She sure is. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty images.

"In fact, since Ying Ying's first breeding season, the Park has been preparing for the arrival of our first panda cub, from setting up a well-equipped nursing room to sending our animal care team to panda facilities in China for training on nursing newly born panda cubs," Gendron added.

The reason for all the fuss? (Besides the fact that baby pandas are perhaps the most adorable creatures on the planet.)

It's really, really hard for pandas to breed successfully on their own.

Female pandas only ovulate naturally about once a year, and their pregnancies often aren't successful. Even during the late stages of pregnancy, reabsorbing the fetuses and miscarriages are common among giant pandas.

The world needs more baby pandas like these born in 2015 in the Sichuan province of China. Photo by ChinaFotoPress for Getty Images.

Unfortunately, due to destruction of their habitats, there are just under 2,000 giant pandas living in the wild globally, according to the World Wildlife Fund. That's why breeding programs like the one Ying Ying participated in are so important for keeping the panda population stable.

Ying Ying is expected to give birth very soon. And when she does, she'll have expert help by her side.

"To ensure the delivery would proceed as smoothly as possible, we have arranged for two of our panda maternity specialists to provide on-site advice and assistance," said Li Desheng, Ocean Park's deputy director of Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve Administration.

We'll be standing by for lots of cute panda baby photos, too ... like these cuties.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Or like this little guy.

Photo by Courtney Janney/Smithsonian's National Zoo via Getty Images.

Nothing brings the world together quite like a baby panda. Congratulations, Hong Kong! We'll be celebrating your first baby panda with you.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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