There was a 'panda kindergarten' event in China. It didn't disappoint.

It was back-to-school for the fuzziest, cuddliest, most adorable creatures on earth this past weekend.

On Oct. 24, 2015, baby giant pandas were presented to the public as part of Chengdu Research Base's opening ceremonies for "panda kindergarten" this year in China.

And yes, it was as cute as it sounds.


ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Unfortunately, there weren't any scrapbook-worthy pics of the cubs putting on backpacks and hopping on school buses (can you imagine, though?). That's because the research base uses the term "kindergarten" a little loosely — it's not so much a school as it is the area where the smallest fur-balls are cared for, play with their peers, and just generally act too-cute to handle.

This year's ceremony was particularly awesome because 2015 has been downright phenomenal for giant pandas.

In front of excited onlookers, 13 of the 15 giant panda cubs born at the center this year strutted their stuff for the camera (or, you know, just rolled around on the table being delightful). That number may not seem significant, but it marks a very successful breeding year for the species.

ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Because females only ovulate for a very short time once a year, reproduction rates can be painfully stagnant for giant pandas. As the Smithsonian's National Zoo points out, "the giant pandas' naturally slow breeding rate prevents a population from recovering quickly from illegal hunting, habitat loss, and other human-related causes of mortality."

So all things considered, 15 makes for a pretty stellar year.

Remarkably, there were six — six! — sets of twins in the mix this year, too. And two of them were named image ambassadors by the United Nations Development Program, which helped organize the event to bring awareness to the species' fragility around the world.

Overall, things are looking up for these fuzz-balls.

Giant pandas are endangered, with only about 1,864 alive in the wild in 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund. That figure, however, is fairly encouraging — it's up from around 1,000 in the 1970s. In the past decade alone, wild giant panda numbers have ticked up 17%.

Here's some recent photographic evidence of a bump in the captive population too (and not at all an excuse to look at more baby pandas being baby pandas...):

Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Make no mistake, though — we can't get complacent when it comes to protecting these creatures.

Like I mentioned, giant pandas are endangered, which means they're still facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. It's important that their populations continue to grow (and not just because they're cute) — pandas play a vital role in keeping China's bamboo forests alive and thriving, which, in turn, affects many other species.

Here's to hoping each year brings an even bigger incoming class of panda kindergarteners (and always making sure our cameras are out and ready for the first day of school).

Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less